The snow is piled high outside our windows here in Cape Breton, but with the sun shining and the birds around the feeders, our thoughts often drift toward dreams of spring. Spring always brings change and new life, and this year more than ever. As some of you know, I am expecting a baby in just a few weeks, the fourth for Silas and I, to join older siblings Maggie, Josh, and Jacob.
It is surely an exciting time for our family, and for many others in the community as well. Heather has performed her ritual of swinging her wedding ring on a ribbon over my belly to determine the gender (it’s a boy for sure, according to her methods) and Brian frequently requests confirmation that I am “still” having a baby on April 2nd.
The community is supporting me to take a full year of parental leave with this baby, and I am so grateful to have the chance to do that. This means change, not just for me, but for the whole community. I have been in the role of Community Leader for more than 15 years now, and the longest I have ever been away from the role was for four months, and that was nine years ago! But I can say without hesitation that the skills, commitment, and creativity of the people we have in the community today make it possible for me to take this time away without any concern for the fate of the community during my absence.
After a lengthy time of discernment and feedback involving many people in the community and the Region, I am happy to share that Mary MacDougall will be taking the role of Interim Community Leader during my year of parental leave. Mary has been a committed member of L'Arche for more than ten years, having carried the role of Program Leader at Caper Club and, most recently, been on the Leadership Team as Homes Coordinator. She is passionate about L'Arche, a hard worker with a great sense of humour, has extensive experience with both community building and administration, and she makes excellent biscuits! She has the support of both the community and the region in taking on this new challenge, and I offer her both my wholehearted endorsement and sincerest gratitude.
When Mary steps into the role of Interim Community Leader, Mukthar Limpao will join the Leadership Team as Homes Coordinator. Mukthar has spent the past three years as Houseleader at Waycobah House. In that role, he has earned the trust and the friendship of the assistants and core members in his house, as well as of the other Houseleaders he works with. Mukthar is a gentle but firm leader with a strong work ethic. He is meticulous and organized in his work, and intuitive and fun-loving with his housemates and friends. He has been, and will continue to be, a tremendous asset to our community.
Having just returned from her own year of parental leave, Haley Zavo completes the Leadership Team as she continues in her role of Assistants’ Coordinator. She has come back to her role with renewed energy and enthusiasm, and has already amazed me with her energy, drive, and vision. Haley provides outstanding support to our assistant body both as a listener, supervisor, and trainer.
And so, we step into another year of adventure here at L'Arche Cape Breton. I welcome your prayers for the inevitable bumps that will come up on the road this year, as every year. And I ask you to join me in giving thanks for all the good people – including Mary, Mukthar, and Haley – who work so hard to make this community what it is.