Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

The season of Lent calls us to personal transformation—and sometimes transformation hurts!

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, uses a surprising analogy when speaking of transformation:

IMAGINE YOURSELFas a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.

But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.

You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building up a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself.

During the season of Lent we are supposed to long for transformation!   We know that change is often painful…yet we know it is for our own good.  During these days let us aim to accept the changes and the challenges asked of us…with a joyful heart and a willing spirit!


Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.


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In the Gospel of Matthew 19:26 we read that “with God all things are possible”.  This reminder is especially meaningful this month as we celebrate the feast of Apostles Simon and Jude (October 28).  Many Catholics have a strong devotion to St. Jude, often called the saint of the impossible.  St. Jude intercedes for us to God in our many needs…because his faith, like ours, trusts that God can do what we cannot do!  Scripture reminds us also that if our faith is the size of a mustard seed (the smallest of all seeds!) we can move mountains….I like to think of the “we” as God and I, working together in a “faith-filled” relationship. Having faith in one another is also important.  We need to believe in the people we meet each day, the people with whom we share our lives. A story is told of a ten-year-old boy who was working in a factory in Naples before present laws on child labor were put in place.  His mother was convinced he had a good singing voice, and by working in the factory he could earn enough to pay for music lessons.  His first music teacher, however, told him he did not have what it takes and that it would be a waste of money to pursue the idea.  His mother, a peasant woman, was not so easily discouraged. She encouraged her son, told him she believed in him and sacrificed to save money for his music lessons.  Her efforts bore fruit, and her son, Enrico Caruso, became one of the world’s greatest tenors.  Miracles happen for those who show God that they are serious about what they seek.  This week, believe in a miracle, trust in our good God, pray seriously for what some might think is so impossible…and then keep trusting!


Written by: Sr. Marie Paull Grech SND

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We know that we face many uncertainties in our world, but our faith assures us of a certainty from which we cannot hide.  God has called us into life, has breathed his Spirit within us, gifts us with individual talents, with family and friends…and promises us eternal life.  We celebrate all the ways in which God calls us and blesses us, and know that in recognizing his presence in all the events of our life we are being true to our baptismal consecration.

“May you be wise in choices and decisions!  May you be caring in all relationships and compassionate to those in need.  May you meet life’s adventures with a clear mind and a bold heart.  May your integrity be a gift to the world, and may the Spirit of God be with you always” (blessing by Pat Bergen, CSJ)

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October is a month filled with Church celebrations—and this week is especially meaningful:

On Monday, October 1, we celebrated the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower and on Tuesday, we remembered our Guardian Angels.  So this week, we ask St. Therese to teach us her “little way”—a way of doing everything with love for Jesus.  We ask our Guardian Angels to protect us and to guard our children in all that they do. On Wednesday, we called to mind the great St. Francis of Assisi, whose love for God’s creation and his prayer for peace have impacted us in so many ways. We pray with St. Francis, asking God to make us instruments of His peace and to guide us in taking care of his creation. On Sunday, October 7, we celebrate the feast of Mary as Queen of the Rosary and ask Mary especially to intercede for all those in the military. With Mary, our Mother, we walk with Jesus through the mysteries of His life, death, and resurrection whenever we pray the rosary.  These prayerful reminders of each of these holy people support us in our daily lives as we ask their intercession for all of our needs and the needs of our world.

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La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks, California, is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year! If you are a former Regent, check out the alumni Facebook page here for fun events coming soon.




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Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) coordinators from each Sisters of Notre Dame US province met in California in June to share their achievements from the past year and set new goals for the future. JPIC initiatives cover a broad range of issues that the Sisters of Notre Dame are passionate about including global conservation and human trafficking.DSC_0896

Sister Mary Lea Paolucci from the Covington, Kentucky province reported that her community held a purse and shoe drive that raised $2,100 to install a water tank in Buseesa, Uganda.  Sister Mary Ann Baran from the Chardon, Ohio province discussed her involvement with the nonprofit Water for Life Institute, which “uses a combination of appropriate water technologies, water health education and basic research so that communities can identify and solve their water problems” according to their website. In addition, Sister Joyce Marie Bates filled the group in on her research into micro-financing projects in the US and abroad; and Sister Betty Mae Bienlein stressed the importance of educating other sisters about JPIC.

“Our big goal is to help our sisters understand that our whole vowed life is for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation,” she said “We each have to live so that our Christian presence is a silent witness that shows people that there is hope. The world is not in a hopeless situation.”

This year all four provinces held Awakening the Dreamer symposiums for their communities. Awakening the Dreamer educates and motivates participants to do what they can now to curb climate change.  The sisters believe that every small act of respect for the earth and other people is important, and they chose Awakening the Dreamer to communicate that message to a larger group of people. Respect is a key concept in JPIC initiatives.

“Respect for the earth, for the animals, for people and for the whole cosmos is our ministry,” said Sister Betty Mae. She hopes that sisters and others will make an effort to stay aware of JPIC issues via daily news and that they will show hope and joy in the face of those challenges.

Photo from left to right:

Sister Mary Ann Baran (Chardon), Sister Mary Lea Paolucci (Covington), Sister Betty Mae Bienlein (California) and Sister Joyce Marie Bates (Toledo).

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Photo by Raynelle Duronslet.

Photo by Raynelle Duronslet

On Monday, September 30th, students, staff and faculty at Notre Dame Academy in West Los Angeles celebrated Foundation Day with a beautiful service and the following student-led prayer:

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Heavenly Father, this week we will drop our books and open our hearts to the hungry, the homeless, the forgotten, the invisible.
As we make prayer cards and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we ask that you bless the work of our hands, and strengthen those who will receive our gifts, nourish them in body and soul.
Fill us with a spirit of joy and sisterhood as we work together in our religion classes.
Help us as we learn more about the young woman who founded the Sisters of Notre Dame, Hilligonde Wolbring, who later chose the name Sr. Maria Aloyisia when she entered religious life.
Guide us as we grow in understanding of the foundress of our Sisters of Notre Dame, and their congregation, their story, their friendships, their love of God and the poor.
Be with us and our sisters here at Notre Dame Academy as we celebrate your goodness and grace.  Amen.

For more information on how the Sisters of Notre Dame were founded, visit http://www.sndeducation.org/foundation-day/.

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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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Written by Sr. Lisa Megaffin, SND

Inspired by John 11:1-45

Yellow rose in garden of Notre Dame Center

Where are the roses of friendship in your life? How do they bring you closer to God?

The story of Lazarus and the words “Jesus wept” reveal God’s invitation to intimate friendship.

In John 15, Jesus indicates “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you.”  This divine revelation includes familiarity, care, forgiveness, hope, delight and joy—all that describes authentic friendship. Through no effort on their part, the disciples experienced Jesus’ friendship and unconditional love. In turn, they must share this love.

Jesus’ tears cannot be exclusively associated with his grief over the death of Lazarus; they reveal his affection for every human person. Jesus weeps in his frustration that his offers of spiritual intimacy, unconditional love and friendship will be misunderstood and rejected.

Our resurrection is an ongoing spiritual event as we are inspired to abandon sin and to accept God’s friendship. God’s invitation to intimacy comes in many ways, including Scripture, the Sacraments and, I like to believe, the “sacramental of friendship.” As all-embracing as our relationships can be, each friendship reveals the very heart of God and helps to make the resurrection a real-life experience.

In God’s providence, this reading of the raising of Lazarus coincides with the end of my own treatments for cancer. Since last July, I have journeyed through diagnosis, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. I will always be humbled and grateful for the graces of the “sacramental of friendship” from relatives, Sisters and Associates of Notre Dame, colleagues, medical care-givers, and friends. The Sisters of Notre Dame believe that “where one of us is, all of us are.” The spiritual reservoir of community and friendship has been a source of great strength for me in moments of anxiety and physical weakness. Words are inadequate to thank all who have journeyed with me; I ask God to give you special graces as my gratitude.

“If you believe, you will see the glory of God…” May the glory of God, as seen in the raising of Lazarus and in the graces of divine and human friendship, strengthen our confidence in His provident care.

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