Susan Gyetvay

Languages: English, French, Hungarian, some Romanian

Susan UCM pic.jpg

I grew up in a split catholic/Jewish home and as a result, was never exposed to formalized religion. We celebrated the holidays, but without delving into the religious or spiritual meaning. My maternal grandfather was a Talmudic scholar who loved philosophy and asking questions. I may have inherited this trait from him because from an early age I was filled with questions about human existence and human nature. In high school, where kids can be cruel, I was filled with puzzlement at their motives and longed for my world to be filled with kindness. Once I had a husband and a baby and felt secure, these thoughts and questions more or less vanished. I went on to adopt two little girls from Romania, so-called Ceausescu Babies, and then within a few years I found myself a single mom, sharing custody with a dad who lived a few blocks away from me in NDG.

My world fell apart and I was quite completely lost. I stumbled upon the Unitarian church of Montreal by accident, at an Empty Bowls event in 2001. I took home about five little flyers answering some basic questions, and I returned the following week, with my three children.  I felt safe at church from the beginning, and while I was in a bit of an emotional fog, unable to really access so-called “good” feelings like joy or peace, my two hours at church each week were the closest I came to feeling well. I look back on those days now and they seem so far away. I have since healed, grown, and flourished in every way imaginable.

One of the first groups I joined at the UCM was the Walking Group which used to meet every Saturday morning for a hike in the city, followed by coffee. Next, I joined the RE Committee and eventually became its’ chairperson. This was a logical and safe place for me, as my day job is working with children as a daycare director. For the next several years I helped put on the annual Trade Craft Fair, Empty Bowls, and BidNight, mostly in the role of food coordinator. It took a little longer than I had anticipated to really make friends, but joining these groups and committees helped me make some of the best friends I have today. After my stint in social events and social Justice, I was ready for something new and tried my hand in the spiritual realm by leading an explorations group for two years. The experience of quietly listening to others and witnessing their reality with love and openness was life changing for me. It enabled me to move gradually towards deeper connections, even if that meant taking risks. 

I am now trying something completely new and different for me, I have joined the Board of Management as the chair of stewardship. I did not really know what this role entailed but I agreed to give it my best shot, and so far, it has been rich and rewarding. The trajectory of my life, my spiritual and emotional growth, my ability to connect with others, and to truly listen, coincides with my life at this church and the people who have shaped and guided me along the way.