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Archive for the ‘Formation’ Category

 

 

 

 

There is a story of a young woman who believes that God lives on top of a mountain at the ends of the earth.  She journeys to the mountain and begins the long climb to the top.  At the time she is beginning, God thinks “What can I do to show people on earth that I love them?”  God says, “I know, I will journey down the mountain and go to live among them.” Thus, when the young woman reaches the top of the mountain, God is not there.  She thinks, “God doesn’t live here!  Maybe God doesn’t even exist.”

Sometimes, we look for God in the wrong places.  We forget that God came down to live among us.  Jesus, God-made-man, shows us how to live in relationship with his Father.  An ancient Jewish saying tells us, “God dwells wherever we let him in.”  Where do I let God in?  Where do I look for God?  Where do I find God?

All of us have so much to be thankful for each day.  When we awake to a new day, when a friend is in touch with us, for the food we eat, for the water that flows into our homes,

for flowers, birds, trees, our health, for doctors close by who care for us: the list can go on and on.  Thanking God should be part of our daily lives.  It is also good to tell God about worries and concerns: about jobs, relationships, family, health, whatever comes to mind.  Sharing those thoughts with God will often help to lessen the burdens we carry.

Take time — lots of it — each day to talk to God in prayer. If you spend time with family members or friends, engage them in prayer with you, and listen to how they share their joys/concerns/thanks with God.

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul 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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African sisters celebrate after taking their vows

The missions of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Africa have attracted many young African women to deepen their faith and to answer the call to religious life. During their religious formation, novices and postulants from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda receive initial instruction together at the international formation house in Njiro, Tanzania. This formation experience goes far beyond quiet prayer, contemplation, and study, to include active ministry and outreach to the surrounding communities.

The Holy Childhood Association engages Catholic youth in mission to neighboring youth in dire need. The program is very popular in Africa and can be found in nearly every parish in Tanzania. The Njiro parish has over 70 children participants. The women in formation help strengthen the program by teaching prayers and catechism, assisting the children with works of mercy, encouraging contribution to the poor, and attending the Sunday children’s Mass. Their ministry to children goes beyond the Holy Childhood Association, however. The novices and postulants have also been asked to teach religion classes once a week in the government school.

SND novices and postulants also meet weekly with villagers in small Christian communities. A community can have as many as 18 families, who take turns hosting the gathering. The community shares Scripture and reflections, and prays the rosary. If a family is in special need, the group offers financial assistance. Special classes are given to the children, who are taught prayers, songs and bible stories. The Novices and Postulants do not all speak the local language fluently, and while that is a challenge for them, they find that they are always able to communicate God’s love to the families they serve.

Once a week women in formation visit neighboring families in the village, where they minister to women, children and the sick. The families find relief in sharing their pain and struggles with the novices and postulants. Those in formation share faith experiences, comforting words, and answer questions about the way they live their life. The visit ends with praying together. Although the villagers don’t always understand what it means to be a sister, they are always grateful for the visits.

The ministry and outreach that the SND postulants and novices perform are a foundational part of their spiritual development, and their outreach experiences are opportunities for growth even in challenges. Ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of their neighbors helps prepare these young women for lives lived for Jesus and his mission.

– Sr. Mary Bernadette Pendola, SND

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Back in January those of us in formation in the SND Congregation got together in Toledo, OH for a weekend of prayer, instruction and plain old socializing. One of the most memorable days there was a visit to the “Big House”, otherwise known as the Provincial Center. It was a joy visiting with the many Sisters in residence there. A beautiful and very thoughtful gift they gave each of us were bags full of hand written notes of inspiration and encouragement from all the Sisters. What a blessing it is to know that so many are praying for you! Among the lovely notes one struck me as the perfect description of Vocation, and I’d like to share it with you:

A Vocation can best be described as

A Strong Challenge

A Great Gift

A Singular  Joy

And

Always a Mystery!

Handle it with Reverence.

Note it starts with Challenge! 🙂

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images“There is a need for heralds of the gospel who are experts in humanity, who have a profound knowledge of the heart of present-day humanity, participating in humanity’s joys and hopes, anguish and sadness, and who are at the same time contemplatives in love with God.”  by Pope John Paul II.

This is a great description of who we are as Sisters of Notre Dame and gets at the heart of what it means to be contemplatives in action!

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upperweb

Check out our Events page (tab at top) for the latest upcoming talks and other activities of the sisters. Starting next week we’re proud to announce the first evening of  “The Upper Room”, our young adult faith enrichment series. The presentations will be given by Sr. Kathleen Burns, many of you may already know her from the various retreats she facilitates around the greater L.A. area. The Upper Room will take place one Wednesday a month from October thru June. Hope you can make it.

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nun2[1]Last month two vibrant, intelligent and successful women crossed the threshold of our formation house, asking to be formed as Sisters of Notre Dame.  For us, it is a reminder that God still calls and  generous, faith-filled women still respond, eager to devote their lives to Jesus Christ.  So, what does make a women choose such a life?

Here’s a “Vocation Story” from one of our new candidates. Let me introduce you to Jane:

“I first felt the calling to religious life while I was taking RCIA classes four years ago. This calling was really a grace given to me by God because I did not know anything about what women religious did other than pray and teach. I became active in my parish and volunteered my time for many activities. However, I needed to further discern my vocational calling – even though I can serve the Church in many ways as a layperson, the calling to be a woman religious is a sacred calling. Jesus said that he came into the world to put it on fire, and I want to learn how the interior fire in my heart can be lived out in ministry as well as in prayer. I decided to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame because I was inspired by them and, through my live-in experiences, observed how the sisters bring Christ to all whom they minister to in their everyday lives.”

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