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Do you have questions regarding retreats or courses? Please contact the Guest House at 416-226-2201 ext. 305 or email us at

The Community Libraries

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

This is a pretty accurate description of the Sisters’ attitude toward reading. Reading is an important part of our spiritual discipline, a focus for our ongoing education, and a source of entertainment.

We have a library in each of our houses with books on spirituality, prayer, the Bible, theology and literature, and excellent collections of both non-fiction and fiction.

The main Convent library houses about 16,000 volumes. There is also a library with another 2,000 books on the second floor of the Guest House, specifically for our Associates and Oblates, who may take books home from that library.

Other guests are welcome to use both the Sisters’ library and the Associate/Oblate library and may sign out books to use while in residence at the Convent, but they may not be taken out of the Convent.

The library offers a good reference section, study tables, comfortable reading chairs, and wireless internet connection.

St. John’s Convent Bookroom

The Bookroom offers merchandise for sale at the Convent. We accept cash, cheque, credit and debit cards. Unfortunately we cannot accept mail orders.

It offers an interesting selection of books, including traditional classics and many contemporary writers. These appeal to our Associates and Oblates, clergy, and others who frequently visit the Convent, as well as those on retreat and the many visitors who join the Sisters for chapel services and meals.

Some of the authors the Bookroom has carried include: Joan Chittister, Margaret Silf, Diarmuid O’Murchu, Judy Cannato, Joyce Rupp, Macrina Wiederkehr, Louis Savary, Brian Swimme, Rowan Williams, Jean Vanier, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton.

Subjects cover spirituality, prayer, theological reflection, Christianity and the new cosmology, daily devotions, coping with illness, desire for Christian growth, and many more.

New publications continually arrive. The Bookroom also sometimes carries a selection of CDs by artists such as Margaret Rizza and Tim Elliott, and recordings by the Taizé Community and the Wild Goose Worship Group.

The Sisters’ creativity is also offered for sale in the form of beautifully crafted cards, silk scarves, crocheted angels, Anglican rosaries, and hand-knitted teddies (to support Amnesty International).


The Birth of A Labyrinth

The labyrinth is an ancient tool of prayer. When the Sisters built the new Convent in 2004, we were excited about the possibility of continuing that tradition here.

Heather Lindsay, a landscape artist from Metropolitan United Church in Toronto, helped us construct our labyrinth with prayer and reverence. On a cold November day in 2004, the Sisters and volunteers, together with Heather, battled pouring rain as we laid the river stone that forms the boundaries of the path. Each stone was laid with prayer, and the rainy day brought out the stone’s beautiful colours.

We chose the 11-circuit pattern from Chartres Cathedral, one of the most ancient labyrinths in a Christian church. In the Middle Ages, people who wanted to make a spiritual pilgrimage but were too poor to go to the Holy Land or other famous Christian shrines walked the labyrinth as a sign of devotion, penitence, and prayer.

We laid down a thick layer of mulch as the walking path, so it’s possible to walk in wet weather without getting muddy feet. We placed a large rock at the centre of the labyrinth to symbolize that Christ is the centre of our life. The rock is slightly off-centre so that when you sit on it or stand before it, your feet are in the exact centre.

Walking the Labyrinth

The labyrinth symbolizes our spiritual journey as we move in towards the centre, letting go of whatever burdens us, and then returning by the same path freer and lighter, with the assurance of God’s love and support as we face the tasks of our lives.

Labyrinths are a powerful meditation tool. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path to the centre, so you don’t have to think about where you’re walking – you can just relax and go with the flow of the path. The many different turns have the effect of naturally slowing the body down. As the body slows and relaxes, so does the mind, and then inspiration, creativity and grace are allowed to surface. We become more aware of God’s presence, our true self, and the world we live in.

For suggestions about using the labyrinth, please read our brochure .


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