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Since she became a postulant with the Sisters of Notre Dame nearly two years ago, Mayra Martinez feels she has grown into a more confident, peaceful person. Now, she is about to embark on the second step of her vocational journey. In August, Mayra, age 37, will move from Providence House in Long Beach, C.A. and travel to Covington, K.Y.  for two years of novitiate, which is a time of intense prayer, study of the Congregation and theological reflection.

“I’m choosing to move forward in the process of becoming a Sister of Notre Dame,” she said. “I’m  moving closer to making my first profession of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.”

Despite the challenges before her and the uncertainty of the next several years, Mayra feels unafraid.

“I’m amazed by the amount of grace and trust in God that I feel. It’s starting to become very real now. I know I won’t see my friends, family or the sisters in California for a while, so I feel a little sad, but I trust that He will take care of me.”

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Mayra Martinez (left) with Nicole Varnerin, both women are postulants with the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Mayra was recently accepted to Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, K.Y. where she will continue her education. When a woman completes the novitiate, she then professes vows of chastity, poverty and obedience for the first time and begins the ministry for which she has been prepared.

According to Mayra, the highlight of her experience in the community is living with and learning from the sisters. She has learned to live in a close-knit community, ask for help when she needs it and trust in God’s goodness and provident care.

“I’ve had many beautiful moments with my sisters. They’ve taught me that everything we do is rooted in prayer, the importance of the Eucharist, to think logically, and to stand up for myself. I love them all and I’m very excited for the next step in my journey.”

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Notre Dame Center sits on about 4.5 acres of land on Hendrix Avenue in Thousand Oaks and houses 32 Sisters of Notre Dame. In light of the worsening drought, several sisters were concerned that their 1.5 acres of landscaped space might be using too much water. So, with the help of California American Water and Blue Watchdog Conservation firm, they conducted a water survey on their property.

The survey revealed that there were, in fact, several simple fixes that could save the sisters water and money. First, the surveyors recommended installing two new Weather Based Irrigation Controllers (WBICs).  According to the survey, the WBICs “work by using specific information about the site, including weather patterns, plant types, soil type, slope, and irrigation system application rates to automatically adjust irrigation schedules.”

A Weather Based Irrigation Controller that can suspend irrigation in the event of rain.

A Weather Based Irrigation Controller that can suspend irrigation in the event of rain.

The surveyors also recommended that 84 sprinklers be replaced with more efficient ones that will save about 149,600 gallons of water per year. The sisters will also need to repair 12 leaky sprinkler heads and adjust 39 nozzles contributing to overspray.

Ripping out the existing lawn on the sisters’ property would be too costly, according to Sister Mary Karlynn Werth, house administrator at Notre Dame Center. However, she does plan to use drought-tolerant plants on all new landscaping projects including the area behind the convent, adjacent to La Reina High School.

Overspray on the sisters' property in Thousand Oaks.

Overspray on the sisters’ property in Thousand Oaks.

“Now’s the time,” Sister Mary Karlynn said of the changes, “Saving water is a personal responsibility and we have to keep encouraging each other to do better.”

Inside Notre Dame Center, saving water has always been important to the sisters, who make sure that loads of laundry and dishes are full before they start.

“We have cut our water usage by nearly half since June of last year,” said Sister Mary Anncarla Costello, provincial superior for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California, “This represents our very conscientious awareness of the seriousness of the situation and our responsibility to contribute to a solution. Each of the sisters is doing her part and those who oversee the daily operations of our property are also working toward conservation.”

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Vision & Challenge is published tri-annually by the Office of Mission Advancement for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California. This issue features an exclusive look at the new projects happening at our mission in Uganda. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send an email to cvieira@sndca.org.

Click here to read the online version.

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Statue of Sister Maria Aloysia

Statue of Sister Maria Aloysia

Sister Maria Aloysia was born as Hilligonde Wolbring in 1828 and died on May 6, 1889. She founded the Sisters of Notre Dame in Coesfeld, Germany, in 1850 and is an important figure in the history of the congregation.

Today we celebrate the 125th anniversary of her death in 1889 with a collection of memories written by other sisters with Sister Maria Aloysia in mind. We hope her spirit will inspire you incarnate the love of our good and provident God.

“During the first years at Mt. St. Mary’s there were, naturally, many difficulties to surmount. Sister M. Aloysia viewed all these inconveniences in the light of faith, weighing their worth in the light of eternity.”

“During the cold winter months she would go to the very large dormitory each evening to assure herself that they were all protected sufficiently from the cold…Silently she went from bed to bed observing the breathing to ascertain if all were well before she retired to snatch a few hours of well deserved rest.”

“Life in an institution , because it is precisely regulated, generally runs along smoothly and uniformly day after day. And there it was also that way, but there were also happy diversions. It might be a walk in the woods with a jolly picnic, or the celebration of Sister M. Aloysia’s name day. Above all, there was Christmas! At the beginning of Advent, each child wrote a letter to the Christ Child telling Him his great or little wishes. This was an opportunity for Sister M. Aloysia to open her kind motherly heart and hands. And somehow her ingenious love would find a way to fulfill all the petitions.”

“Sister M. Aloysia’s esteem for the Blessed Sacrament was like a golden thread woven through her entire life, a thread which was never broken; rather it became more closely intertwined during the years of her cloistral [religious] life.”

“For her sisters, Sister M. Aloysia always had a kindly glance and a friendly word of encouragement. Honest with herself and others, she knew how to separate the person from the deed. The virtuous practice of true sisterly charity found support in her naturally optimistic disposition, which enabled her to empathize with the old and young alike, and so live in peace and harmony with all.”

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CaptureVision & Challenge is published tri-annually by the Sisters of Notre Dame, California Province’s Office of Mission Advancement. To read online click  here.Founded by Hilligonde Wolbring in Coesfeld, Germany, in 1850, the Sisters of Notre Dame are an international congregation of women religious who serve the Church in seventeen countries on six continents.The Sisters of Notre Dame have ministered in California for almost nintey years, bringing hope to the world through catechesis, pastoral ministry, education, health care, social ministries and missionary activity.

For more information, visit www.sndca.org.

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