In her “retirement” a Sister of Charity serves on the shores of the Arctic Ocean and continues a life of pioneering in ministry.
High in the western Canadian Arctic, Sister Fay Trombley has been a pastoral leader among Inuvialuit indigenous people since November 2005. A theologian and church historian, she is spending her “retirement” serving in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories at Our Lady of Grace mission. On the shores of the Arctic Ocean, the community affectionately known as “Tuk” witnesses midnight sun in summer and Northern Lights in winter.
Originally from Canada’s west coast, Sister Fay entered the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception 58 years ago. After teaching high school in western Canada, she became the first Canadian woman to receive a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. From 1983 to 2005, she was a faculty member at Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta, where she taught spirituality and church history and offered spiritual direction.
After retiring from teaching, Sister Fay fulfilled her dream of northern ministry, relocating to the community above the Arctic Circle. This year she is helping oversee restoration of the parish mission church where she leads liturgies. In her simple residence, she animates activities for children and offers space for a drop-off centre and meeting site for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
In recent years, she has often been featured by Catholic Missions in Canada, which educates about and seeks support for remote Canadian mission communities. Sister Fay has noted the poverty and social problems faced by the Inuvialuit people, while also highlighting their great resilience.
Being a northern missionary “means smiling faces in the midst of tragedies,” she told Catholic Missions in Canada. “Our greatest treasure is children who are full of hope and happiness . . . Hope lies in the land where people renew their spirits with nature and the Creator. Our faith pulls people through the hardest times.”
Story courtesy of Roma DeRobertis, SCIC