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A high-profile Secular

I wrote yesterday about Pauline Vanier (1898-1991), Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, wife of the Governor General of Canada, mother of five children, and the tremendous spiritual support she derived from her relationship with an English Carmelite prioress, but I forgot to mention one of the main reasons I chose to write about her - which was that she was herself a Secular Carmelite. It's not often that you hear of such a high-profile individual being a Secular. It does seem that she left fragrant memories and did honour to her calling; after the death of her husband in 1967 she swapped the round of receptions and dinners which her life with him had entailed for a shared existence in a community for the handicapped, where she was known simply as Grandma. There she became the go-to person for many young volunteers who found their way to work in the community, a person they could turn to for advice and a listening ear. It was a period in her life that she could hardly have anticipated in earlier times. The Good Lord does indeed lead us in mysterious ways.

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