In the years of 2000 - 2002 Sr. Anna Chan visited a number of communities to discern the call to the consecrated life. No strong desire to join any of them emerged from these visits. At that point she believed the question about a call to consecrated life had been discerned and was closed. However, while on a retreat in June 2003 a strong stirring emerged in her heart. She found herself with the desire to become a consecrated woman.
Following the retreat she approached the Companions of the Cross and asked for the current plans regarding a sisterhood. Sr. Anna was informed that it was still in the plans, but was concretely non-existent. However, she heard a strong word on her heart, This needs to happen now. At a meeting with the Moderator, Fr. Roger Vandenakker, she voiced the need to begin a sisterhood. He recommended a discernment retreat to authenticate the call to found a Companions sisterhood. On this retreat, the call was confirmed; Sr. Anna is to found a community akin to the Companions of the Cross. The key discernment points were: the call is evident, Anna is to lead and to be led with a humble heart and the Companions of the Cross is Anna's family.
Immediately following Sr. Anna's call, in August 2003 Sr. Monique Bisson also felt the need to approach Fr. Roger and reveal her desire to join in the founding of a Companions sisterhood with Sr. Anna. She likewise was directed to go on a retreat, which she did in February 2004.The outcome of the retreat and the subsequent discernment confirmed her vocation to the sisterhood of the Companions of the Cross.
Approaching the Companions was easy. Srs. Monique and Anna served on the same youth ministry team on National Evangelization Teams (NET) from 1999 to 2000. They became roommates in Ottawa, making their spiritual home at a Companions parish (Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church). The Companions’ spirituality was a natural fit. It complemented the formation they had already received on NET (which is no surprise, since a number of Companions are themselves NET alumni).
With no established sisterhood, Sr. Anna knew God was calling her to initiate its conception. Like Our Lady, she saw that the call required a surrender and a trust in the will of God in ways that exceeded—and continues to exceed—her imagination. The discernment retreatremains a vital sign pointing to the calling of founding a sisterhood, one that incarnates the spirituality that was given to Fr. Bob Bedard.