Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category


Jubilee is celebrated each year by sisters who have reached a milestone in their lifetime of service to God. This year, we celebrate Sister Mary LaReina’s 50th year, Sister Margaret Mary’s 40th, Sister Julie Marie’s 40th, and Sister Mary Leanne’s 25th. To leave a congratulatory note for a sister or to make a gift in her honor, please contact Anne Interrante at ainterrante@sndca.org. As we celebrate this year, we hold in memory Sister Mary Anita and Sister Mary Lynn, Jubilarians who passed away recently.

As we approach the time of Jubilee, the image of tree rings comes to my mind very forcibly. The tree grows from a slight sapling, never knowing its future, never contemplating how many rings will speak for its life and growth. Each of us in our lifetime is like this. As children we dream of what we will be when we grow up, but when do we qualify as a grown-up?  As we grow in years and hopefully in maturity, our dreams may change, morph, or become bigger or smaller, but if we’re lucky we still look forward to some dream!



The tree rings tell a story. What is our story? Can we see the impact of the “weather” that has affected our life? Do we understand how one “ring” inevitably leads to another? Are we able to pinpoint the ups and downs of our life journey and can we be grateful for both experiences?


Next weekend we will celebrate the Jubilees of four of our sisters: one golden, two rubies, one silver and two who sneaked into heaven within the past few months. I am sure the celebration for Sister Mary Anita and Sister Mary Lynn will be splendiferous! And I bet both are telling their stories, proclaiming God’s goodness to them over the years and telling by their lives how our gracious and provident God has taken care of them over the years. For me, Jubilee time is truly a time for telling stories, telling of the marvelous works God has done one ring at a time!

-Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND


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Click below to hear Sister Mary Paulynne Tubick talk about her journey to Sister Teopista’s home in Uganda.


DSCN0407Sister Mary Teopista Nabugwawo made her first vows on May 10, 2014, in Uganda, Africa. She is a graduate of both Saint Julie Primary Boarding School and Notre Dame Academy Senior Secondary School in Buseesa, Uganda, where the Sisters of Notre Dame have taught and ministered for 20 years. Sister Teopista is the oldest of nine children and her family lives in Uganda, not far from the schools. She and several other East African sisters are preparing to begin their ministries at Saint Julie and Notre Dame Academy.

“People that live in the nearby region are very happy that these young ladies are going to serve in their area,” said Sister Mary Paulynne Tubick, who is principal at Saint Julie and taught Sister Teopista when she was a student there.

Sister Teopista began her formation journey as a candidate at the formation house in Mpala, Uganda. From there she traveled to Tanzania for a year as a postulant and then spent two years as novice. Once that process is concluded, Sisters of Notre Dame typically return to their home parishes to begin their ministries. Sister Teopista will work with nursery and primary school students at Saint Julie.

“She’ll be working with another teacher and watching what’s happening so she’s not a stranger to the educational format,” Sister Paulynne said.

Sister Paulynne hopes that the newly professed sisters will continue spread the joy and love of God in their hearts to others.

“We [the sisters from the United States] can only go so far,” she said, “But they can speak the language so it’s through them that other people can see the word of God. I hope that they continue the Notre Dame spirit in the schools we’ve established and that they are empowered to carry it on in Uganda.”


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Sister Mary Leanne Hubbard received her master’s degree in theology from Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California on Thursday, May 15. Please enjoy the photos below of Sister Leanne’s graduation ceremony!


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Do you know the date of your Baptism?  Some do and some don’t!  For those of us who are cradle Catholics, the details of our baptism are probably not uppermost in our minds.  For those who have experienced adult baptism, it is likely that the details are very much remembered. But in the mind and heart of God, I like to think each and every one of our baptisms is a cause for celebration because it was then that we truly became a son or daughter of God.


We have recently celebrated the glory of the Easter Vigil and perhaps were able to witness the baptisms of adults and children at that ceremony.  We also renewed our own baptismal promises and during the Easter Season we may have been refreshed by the sprinkling rite, calling to mind those promises.  Do you celebrate your baptism?  At our Provincial Center, we do.  It may seem silly to some, but if we don’t have birthdays to celebrate in a given month, we have a Baptism Night instead.  It is very simple, but it does remind us that we have cause to celebrate the day we became children in God’s special family!

-By Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND

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annunciationThe Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary recalls the angel, Gabriel, coming to the young woman, Mary, to ask her if she would be the mother of God’s Son, Jesus.  The Catholic Church celebrates this feast on March 25 each year, nine months before the birth of Jesus.

The feast is important to all of us as an example.  Mary, a young person, so in tune with God in her life, responds with an important “Yes” to God’s request to be the mother of his Son.

Mary said: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”   As a young woman preparing for her marriage to Joseph, Mary did not know how this would happen, what this child would be like, what Jesus’ future would be, what all this would mean in her and Joseph’s life together.  And yet she could say “yes” to God.  She modeled for us great faith and trust.

Today is a very important day for all Sisters of Notre Dame.  Notre Dame means “Our Lady”, so all the sisters are, in a unique way, Sisters of Our Lady.  They chose the Annunciation as the feast for the whole congregation because they especially want to model their lives after Mary’s, by being open and ready to say “yes” to whatever God asks of them.

Today, let us pray for all the Sisters of Notre Dame that they continue to listen to God and say “yes” to whatever God asks of them.

Let us pray for ourselves, our family members and our friends, that we all can be open and ready to say “yes” when God asks something of us in our lives, even if we don’t understand.

Let us really think about these words of the angel, Gabriel, as we say:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.


This post was provided by the SND National Education Partnership.

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DSC_0063LISTEN to Sister Cristina Marie Buczkowski share the experiences that led her to become a Sister of Notre Dame.

This post is in celebration of National Catholic Sisters week and the wonderful difference sisters have made around the world.

Do you have a story about a sister you would like to share? Click here to tell us all about it!


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SONY DSCI doubt that Pope Francis realized, as he stood on that balcony on March 13, 2013, what an impact he would have on a world so in need of a visionary leader. Pope Francis exemplifies what it means to be Christian, committed to Jesus, in whose name we have been baptized. He tells us that:

We Catholics must pray with each other and other Christians. Pray that the Lord gift us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among us Catholics…? …How much damage divisions among Christians, being partisan, narrow interests cause to the Church! Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity.”

The introduction to the prayer service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity calls us to understand that “When Christians worship, they link themselves to this vast global village, so full of beauty, of struggle and of hope.” We are connected in a special way to all those who follow Jesus and who strive to live out his call “to be one, as I and my Father are one.” The prayer service also includes the following prayer which reminds us of the beauty of diversity. We come from all over, responding to the call from God, and we come in order to be one in Christ.

“Loving God, you call all of us: from our homes and from our offices, from our

mines and from our factories, from our fields and from our shops, from our

fishing boats and from our herds, from our schools and from our hospitals, from

our prisons and from our detention centers, to be one in fellowship with our

Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Taken from Week of Prayer for Christian Unity)

-Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND

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“Twinkle, twinkle, little star….when you wish upon a star…would you like to swing on a star….”  Well, I guess I am dating myself!  If anyone can sing these lyrics with me, you know what I mean!

Stars in a dark sky make us look up in wonder, invite us to see that we are so small in comparison, give us hope in the midst of the darkness, remind us that we are not alone.

Today we celebrate not just stars, but the star!  The star that led the magi (wise ones, sages, astronomers) from their homes far away to find a tiny baby, a king without an earthly kingdom, a star himself who would so influence the ages that we still celebrate his birth, his life, his words, his power to save- just everything about him!

We are called to be faith-filled like the magi, who trusted that the star would lead them somewhere special, to someone special. We are called to be courageous, overcoming every obstacle that might keep us from following Jesus. We are called to be generous, giving to others without counting the cost. We are called to be risk-takers, willing to change our plans when it is the right thing to do (like the magi who went home another way).

We are invited to remember that the story does not end here (see Mt. 2:13 ff).  After the magi departed, Joseph also had a dream, warning him.  Mary and Jesus were not going to have an easy time of it. They had to be off and running that night.  Immigrants without a home, Joseph takes them to Egypt: no job, new language, strange land, no friends or relatives, for an unknown time….we can only hope they found kind people to help them.

I recently received an email with the following message that really speaks to today’s celebration of Epiphany:

“Christmas leads to Epiphany, that light shining from Bethlehem upon the whole world. The beam of that light, experienced by seekers in ancient times, continues its glow until it reaches the seekers of every era, and particularly the seekers of today.

May we open our hearts to those who long for God, and may the doors of our churches be opened wide to embrace those who come to glimpse a newborn Child and grasp God’s vision of hope.”

May our New Year 2014 find us rich in all the priceless gifts that Jesus brings.  May we pray with gratitude for all those who have led us closer to Jesus even to this moment in time.

-Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND

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The Sisters of Notre Dame proudly celebrated the success of La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks, California, which was founded by the sisters in 1964. La Reina was recently named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School; an honor given to just 50 private schools in the nation each year by the U.S. Department of Education. Representatives from La Reina enjoyed an award ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November, and La Reina hosted its own ceremony on November 25. Those in attendance included Congresswoman Julia Brownley.

“This nationally recognized award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating outstanding schools where students gain the knowledge, skills and character to meet 21st century challenges,” Brownley said.

Several Sisters of Notre Dame looked on as La Reina Principal Shannon Gomez accepted congratulations from Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la-Peña and Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks.

“On behalf of the Sisters of Notre Dame of the California province, and as a member of the Class of 1969, it is my distinct honor to congratulate La Reina’s trustees, administration, faculty, staff and students on being named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School…We offer our deepest gratitude to all who are partners with us in our important mission and we look forward to great celebrations in 2014, La Reina’s 50th anniversary year,” said Provincial Superior Sister Mary Anncarla Costello.

Sisters attend Blue Ribbon celebration at La Reina.

Sisters attend Blue Ribbon celebration at La Reina.

Provincial Superior Sister Mary Anncarla Costello commends La Reina.

Provincial Superior Sister Mary Anncarla Costello commends La Reina.

Sister Mary Rebekah Kennedy, a teacher at La Reina, and her student.

Sister Mary Rebekah Kennedy, a teacher at La Reina, and her student.

Congresswoman Julia Brownley congratulates students, staff and faculty.

Congresswoman Julia Brownley congratulates students, staff and faculty.

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Hilligonde Wolbring and Elisabeth Kuhling

Hilligonde Wolbring and Elisabeth Kuhling

Today, October 1, we celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the founding of the religious community: the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld, Germany.

A little bit of the story…

We begin with Hilligonde Wolbring.  By the time she was seven, both of Hilligonde’s parents and a baby brother had died.  This put Hilligonde into the home of an aunt and uncle and several cousins.  As she grew up, she hoped to be a missionary, but the idea was discouraged by those around her.  Being a missionary was too dangerous for a young woman in that day. They encouraged her to help those in need in her own town. Hilligonde decided to become a teacher. At that time, 1846, being a teacher meant going through an intense and regimented teacher preparation program that involved not only academic but also spiritual development, passing the state examination, and remaining unmarried.

When Hilligonde began to teach at a parish school, she became friends with another teacher who had been there several years, Elizabeth Kuhling.  They shared not only a passion for teaching but a desire to do more for the poor and neglected children in their school.  As we ourselves know, with a friend, it is easier to brainstorm ideas and plan projects.  That is what they did.  They decided to get a large house so they could bring in orphans and care for them.

Also at the school and parish was a young, energetic priest, Father Elting, who taught religion.  After discussing their plan with him, he encouraged them to begin a religious community so their work could become permanent and grow. Father Elting connected with a community of sisters in Holland (Sisters of Notre Dame of Amersfoort, Holland) that matched the direction and spirit of Hilligonde and Elizabeth.  So, sisters from Holland came and taught these young women how to be sisters, what the vows meant and how to live them.

On October 1, 1850, Hilligonde became Sr. Maria Aloysia and Elizabeth became Sr. Maria Ignatia, novices of the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a few years because of different laws, especially for teacher training, in the two countries, the group of sisters in Germany became independent from the sisters in Holland. By that time there were eleven sisters who made their vows and 22 novices.  October 1 is considered Foundation Day because it was the first day of having Sisters of Notre Dame in Coesfeld, Germany.

In 1874, sisters came to the United States because the oppression of the Catholic Church in Germany meant the sisters could not function publicly. So, they came to the U.S. and first began schools in parishes where there were German immigrants.  St. Peter Church in Cleveland, OH, Mother of God Church in Covington, KY, St. John Church in Delphos, OH are several of the places where the sisters opened schools right away.

Now there are about 2,200 Sisters of Notre Dame in 18 countries on 5 continents, working in schools and other related ministries.  Let us pray for them, their work, and their continued success.

Good and Provident God, today as we celebrate the beginnings of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld, Germany, we offer you praise and thanksgiving for all that the sisters have given over 163 years and continue to give.  May we who share in their charism of trusting in a good and provident God, show that trust in our daily lives, also.


Go to http://www.sndeducation.org/ for more information on the Sisters of Notre Dame.

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