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Nun Uses Colour, Collages to Feel Closer to God

Workshop offered at Star of the North Centre, Edmonton, Canada,
builds link between creativity and spirituality

Creativity is next to godliness for Sister Pat Desnoyers. To her, images cut from magazines and pasted in collages are as important to the soul as the passages of the Bible, and she plans to share that vision.

The Calgary nun offers a sessions, inviting people to explore their spirituality through experiments with paint, movement, poetry, music and even relaxation techniques.

“If we look at God as a creator, creation is the centre. When we get in touch with our own creativity, we are in turn getting in touch with God.” Desnoyers, who began her love affair with the arts as a high school drama teacher in Calgary and Belgium, also works with pregnant teens, young mothers and women trying to put their lives back together after serving time in prison.

“I discovered that a lot of these people have had few chances to really grow in their own awareness and struggle to be responsible. You're not able to respond if you're not aware of who you are and what you're about.”

One woman who'd been involved with drugs and had served jail time “was extremely tense”, said Desnoyers. “She was very overly-dependent on other people's reactions. She could not react out of her own centre. Through the use of dramatisation and physical relaxation exercises, I helped her get in touch with who she was. There was a whole part of her that was very enthusiastic.”

Desnoyers has taken dance and art courses and has an English degree, as well as a background in music. She is currently completing a Masters' degree in Divinity from Regis College in Toronto, with her studies focusing on body awareness and spirituality through the arts.

She believes the arts are as important to the classroom as textbooks. “When we express our creativity through the arts, there's an element of exercising ourselves. Pen and paper just don't do it.”

In teaching her classrooms of students, Desnoyers found the arts added a holistic approach to education. “Students became in touch with their own spirituality, that part of our spirit that goes beyond your physical being. They were also becoming more aware of who they were in relationship to God and others.”

Adapted from an article in the St. Albert Gazette, Edmonton, Canada - September 21, 2002

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