This blog sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame has been named “In the Hands of the Potter” for as long as I can remember.  I don’t know where the name originated, but I know I connect with it in many ways—and am very happy to be contributing to it on a more regular basis.  I have always been fascinated and inspired by the symbolism of hands, am drawn to pictures of hands, have meditated and written meditations on hands, and found perhaps my greatest consolation in the protective and nurturing concept of God’s hands.  In January of 2016, my mom’s health began to decline and we knew she would not see another year.  As feisty as my mother had always been, she approached the end of her life with the same determination as she had shown throughout it.  She did not want extreme medical procedures, but rather said she just wanted to be left “in God’s hands”—and He could decide when it would be time for her to go home.  We, her family and doctors, respected her wishes, sure in the faith that God would take care of her in his ever loving way.  This experience confirmed my belief that in all things, each of us is held in God’s gentle hands, the hands of the Creator Potter who makes us, sustains us, and calls us to be his own.


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


photo 1The concept of discipleship is woven throughout the Gospels.  In our everyday lives, we can easily identify  three levels of discipleship:  nominal, intentional and radical.

A nominal disciple is “in name only”—and it is easy to notice areas of our lives in which we nominally follow someone or a particular program.   A person might nominally be a member of Weight Watchers, but there might not be much evidence of commitment.

An intentional disciple may have some level of commitment, but distractions and a lukewarm spirit may surface.    “Oh, yes, officer, I intended to keep to the speed limit.”   This comment will not prevent the ever-dreaded speeding ticket.

The radical disciple is a person who is “all in.”  To be “radical” is to be unwavering, far-reaching or deeply-rooted.  The origin of “radical” is the idea of proceeding from a root.  In the letter to the Colossians, St. Paul encourages the early Christians with these words:  “Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him.  Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught.  (Col. 2:6-7)

The mission statement of the Associates of the Sisters of Notre Dame indicates that the Associates feel “impelled to radical discipleship.”   Now this word radical can sometimes be a stumbling block until it is explored in its spiritual sense.   A believer who is radical is truly more than nominal, more than intentional.

The SND Associates are “all in.”   During the year of formation, the Associate Candidates study the SND prayer life, spirit and mission.  They also explore the deeper/counter-cultural meaning and application of the Eight Beatitudes, the Works of Mercy, and life as a radical disciple.

On Saturday, June 4, four new SND Associates made a covenant to share in the mission of Jesus Christ through the charism, spirituality and mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame.  We welcome Mary Anne Furlong, Tam and Greg Lontok and Patrice Theard.   Sharing in the charism or spiritual life-blood of the Sisters of Notre Dame, they have been inspired to bring God’s transforming grace into their families, communities, parishes and workplaces.

For further information about the SND Associate program, feel free to contact Sr. Lisa Megaffin at lmegaffin@sndca.org.

In 1992, Bishop Deogratias visited our Motherhouse in Rome requesting sister educators for his diocese of Hoima in Uganda, East Africa.  The then superior general, Sister Mary Joell Overman asked the four United States provincials if there was any interest in this project.  As a response to this call the provinces in the United States considered the challenge.  In 1993 Sister Mary Amy Hauck of California asked Sister Mary Margaret Droege of Covington to partner together to do research on this endeavor.  After many visits to Uganda and negotiations with the Bishop, both provinces decided to prepare and send two missionaries each to lay the foundation for an unknown future.  The area of Buseesa was chosen as an area of need in Uganda. During the past twenty years these two provinces have provided missionaries and monetary support to build three schools, formation houses, living space for about 500 boarders as well as farmlands to support this mission venture in Uganda.  Sisters from three other provinces have also contributed to this mission.

Between May 14 and July 13, 2016, nine Ugandan Sisters of Notre Dame have been able to visit the sisters of the provinces that have supported them, their education and training over these many years.  The first group to come included Sister Mary Juliet Atugonza, Sister Violet Marie Katwesige, Sister Anita Marie Kyolimpa and Sister Mary Sunday Kusemererwa.  All of these sisters have been with the sisters from five to ten years and all are teachers in Buseesa or Mpala.  Sister Mary Sunday is a graduate of Nkunba University in Uganda.  The other three sisters are one year professed and will soon go back for further studies.

Sisters in the second group are students at various universities.  We will welcome Sister Mary Immaculate Namuga, one of the formators, Sister Mary Annet Namaakula, Sister Christina Marie Mugume, Sister Mary Olive Katusiime and Sister Mary Teopista Nabugwawo.  Sister Mary Teopista is a St. Julie Mission School graduate from P 1 through high school!

Most of these young women first heard about the Sisters for Notre Dame from Vocation Promotion talks given in their local schools.  These women come from homes at great distances from Buseesa and felt attracted to the sisters’ lifestyle when they learned of their charism of proclaiming God’s goodness to others.  Their families have been supportive of their choice of religious life.

When asked about the impact of their visit Sister Mary Sunday responded,  “We are so grateful for the work and support of the SND’s and their friends for our formation and education. This visit has been very enriching, widened our horizons and giving us a global view.  The experience of visiting Sister Maria Aloysia’s grave has helped us live what we have been learning.” For those of us at home in the US, this visit has greatly encouraged us as we appreciate the fruit of our initial venture of sending missionaries to Africa back in 1993.

Pentecost-stained-glass“Come, Holy Spirit!”  I spoke these words hundreds of times during the year I was working as a chaplain in an inner-city hospital.  Each time I stood outside of a patient’s room, not knowing what kind of painful situation I was walking into, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to be with me in whatever, and for whoever, I encountered.   I was constantly amazed at the great peace I felt when I entered those situations with the Holy Spirit as my guide.

I have to believe that the disciples had a similar experience during Pentecost.  In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear that a strong, driving wind filled the house where they were and the disciples were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  They then found themselves able to spread the message of Jesus to all those they encountered!

In the Gospel of John, Jesus appeared to the frightened disciples.  The gospel says that Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.  Jesus also says that the disciples were being ‘sent out’ to impact the lives of others.  The Holy Spirit would be with them in their ministry and they were being called to go and serve others!  They could find comfort and strength in knowing that they were not going out into the world alone!

We can have that same comfort and strength also.  The Holy Spirit has been given to each of us for a specific reason.  We are here for a purpose.  Every single day that we wake up, we have a purpose.  The Holy Spirit is given to each of us to be manifested in our own way and we are not alone!  The Holy Spirit is with us!  Today, let us be amazed as the results of this simple, yet, overwhelmingly powerful, prayer!!  Come, Holy Spirit!

Sr. Jennifer Marie Zimmerman

Prayer Breakfast 1 Prayer Breakfast 2 Prayer Breakfast 3 Prayer Breakfast 4 Prayer Breakfast 5Sisters of Notre Dame, Associates, Staff and Faculty from La Reina and choir students all gathered at California Lutheran for an interfaith Prayer Breakfast sponsored by the YMCA. Together we prayed for our community, our civic leaders, and one another, that we might all be in service to God and to each other.  Many thanks to all who participated in this beautiful gathering.


Preschool3 Preschool2 Preschool1Sister Mary Paulynne sends the following update and some great photos of the children and their new building.  Awesome and what a gift from some many benefactors that made it become a reality!


“I thought that you and the Sisters would enjoy pictures of the nursery school and the children!  The building is almost completed with a few finishing touches that need to be done: connection of water tanks, electricity and solar panels, etc.  The furnishings still need to come in a few weeks but otherwise we are ready to begin our second term in the new buildings!  Praise God! We are also hoping and praying that the visas for our Juniors will be granted soon!  We continue to trust in God’s divine providence and care.”

Many many thanks to all our generous donors for your help with this project! We are so excited to be able to continue our service to the people of Buseesa through this ministry!

Have you ever wondered how to read the Year of Mercy icon? Sr. Kathleen Glavich offers an extraordinary insight into this beautiful icon over on her blog Catholic Faith Corner.


“The logo in honor of the extraordinary jubilee year of mercy, designed by Father Marko Rupnik, S.J., is in the style of an icon. This means that all of its elements symbolize something. Learning about the significance of these various parts can deepen our understanding of this year established, “in hopes that a new flood of mercy will flow over the world.” In case you aren’t aware of the meaning of icon features—and if you haven’t been introduced to the mercy logo already,—here is some information. The two figures stand for Christ, who has the halo, and “Adam” or humanity…us. Christ carries the person over his shoulders the way a shepherd carries a sheep. This obviously refers to the Good Shepherd, Jesus who rescued the human race that had gone astray. The Divine Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep. The black slats Jesus stands on in the logo remind us of the cross. The wounds in his hands and feet are scars from his redeeming sacrifice. The redemption of the world is the greatest act of mercy God ever performed.”

Read the whole story here