Posts Tagged ‘Calling’

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.”


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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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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In one of Pope Francis’ reflections on consecrated life, he hit upon a reality that resonated deeply with me.  Speaking about community life, Francis acknowledged that

“It’s good for the elderly to communicate their wisdom to the young, and it’s good for young people to gather this wealth of experience and wisdom.”

I experienced this when I entered the community at the age of 18.  It was a different time, and at 18 women were marrying out of high school, so entering the convent was not such a surprise.  I was responding to the voice of my God and I simply trusted.

At that time there were four retired sisters living in the same building as we were as postulants and novices. It was an experience in history for me. Sister Mary Brigid, Sister Mary Walburge, Sister Mary Cletus and Sister Mary Balbina embodied all that it meant to live a lifetime commitment to consecrated life. At the time I didn’t even suspect what I didn’t know about the new life I had chosen- or that had chosen me!  But I could recognize that these women had succeeded in making it a lifelong choice. These were prayerful women, holy women, women who had lived the Gospel and their vowed life with joy and dedication.


I remember walking by their small rooms, noting the rosaries in their hands, and being sure that they were praying for me and for the needs of the world. It was only years later that I learned more about the many sacrifices they made in coming to California from their native Ohio, and about the many challenges they embraced in beginning a new venture in California. All I knew as a young postulant was that these were holy women, models of all I wanted to be. Their quiet lives in prayerful retirement motivated me to want to

“…carry it forward, not to safeguard it, but to move forward with the challenges that life brings us, to carry it forward for the good of their religious orders and of the entire Church.”

Pope Francis said it so well! As we celebrate our consecrated life, Francis’ words challenge us to allow the Holy Spirit to animate us, and to live our lives with joy

“always open to the voice of God who speaks, who opens up, who leads and guides us toward the horizon.”

– Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND

Sisters Mary Walburge and Balbina were among the first SNDs to come to California. Follow their journey here.

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Dear friends,

I have recently relocated to California from Cleveland, Ohio to join the staff of the Hilton Fund for Sisters as the Executive Assistant for Administration and Finance.  As a Sister of Notre Dame from the Chardon Province, I have had broad and varied ministry experiences.  Earlier in my career I was a teacher and assistant principal, and then a counselor.  More recently I have worked as a program administrator for clinical services in a community mental health agency, and as an assistant to the facilities director for our Notre Dame educational center complex.  Before coming here, I served in the role of dean of students in an inner-city Catholic high school.  I am excited to use all of the skills I have gained, especially in administration, to contribute to this important work to support the ministries of other Sisters.  I feel privileged to be a part of the philanthropic legacy of Conrad Hilton.

Sr. Julie Bruss, SND

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On Sunday, ten chattering preschool children trickled into Sister Julie Marie Arriaga’s classroom at Saint Julie Billiart Church in Newbury Park. She knew from experience that calling out for them to be quiet would never work.

“So I said softly ‘If you’re quiet, raise your hand.’” Sister Julie Marie said. “And I said it again, ‘If you’re quiet, raise your hand.’ Slowly all their hands came up.”

Sister Julie Marie began teaching preschool this fall as part of Saint Julie’s religious education program for preschool through fifth grade students. She is the first Sister of Notre Dame to be invited to teach at Saint Julie’s and is excited about her new ministry.

“It is an awesome privilege for me to be a presence in that community. I want to be a blessing for the children but also for the parents,” she said.

Her class will meet every Sunday from 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. while their parents are at Mass. Sister Julie Marie’s plan for the school year includes teaching her students to pray and helping them to develop


their relationship with God.

Teaching has been Sister Julie Marie’s primary ministry since she entered as a Sister of Notre Dame in 1971. She began as a second grade communion and reconciliation teacher at Notre Dame Academy in West Los Angeles in 1974.

“I’ve always enjoyed the younger children,” she said. Sister spent seven years at Notre Dame Learning Center in Thousand Oaks as well.

Sister Julie Marie remembers feeling called to religious life at a very young age.

“When I was in eighth grade I told my mom and dad I wanted to be a sister,” she said “I had met sisters from a different community. I could see how happy they were and I wanted to be a part of that.”

As she prepares to celebrate her 40th Jubilee next summer, Sister Julie Marie is grateful for the many opportunities and blessings she has had throughout her religious life.

“We have different transitions and transfers in our lives [as sisters] but I count every call to a new ministry or a new convent as a blessing,” she said.

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Mpopeany of us have been touched by the joyful simplicity of Pope Francis, and it is telling that so many people refer to his simple lifestyle choices as an example for all of us.  His preferences in living quarters, dress, modes of transportation and so on have been commented on by the media, his fellow priests, and Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  His smile and obvious love for people radiate a God-centeredness that is refreshing and inspiring.  He is truly a man of faith, a man of hope and a man of deep compassion.

In Pope Francis’ first encyclical (letter), he called us as disciples of Jesus to carry the light of faith to all that we meet.  The encyclical was first drafted by Pope Benedict (intended to complete his three-part series on hope, love, and faith) but completed by Francis.

We are called to be people of faith:  “Those who believe are transformed by the love to which they have opened their hearts in faith.”

We are called to be evangelists, sharing our faith:  “Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion, or a personal opinion.”

Pope Francis challenges each of us: “Could it be the case …that we are the ones who are ashamed to call God our God?  That we are the ones who fail to confess him as such in our public life, who fail to propose the grandeur of the life in common which he makes possible?”

We are called to reflect on the gift of our faith and Pope Frances encourages us to ask Mary for help. He concluded the encyclical with a beautiful prayer to her, quoted here only in part.

 “Mary, help our faith!  Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call…Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus that he may be light for our path.  And may this light of faith always increase in us…”

-Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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The Sisters of Notre Dame are a congregation of over 2,000 women religious who work in 19 countries on five continents, responding to the needs of God’s people.

Their diverse ministries include:


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Find out about the great work the sisters are doing in Uganda.

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On this feast of Corpus Christi, we reflect on how grateful we are (or should be!) for the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist.  Jesus’ presence in our life does make a difference.  His promise to be with us always helps us deal with the many challenges that come our way….

A story to make us think….

A lecturer was giving a talk to his students on stress management.  He raised a glass of water and asked the audience, “How heavy do you think this glass of water is?”  The students’ answers ranged from 20g to 500g.

The teacher responded, “It does not matter on the absolute weight.  It depends on how long you hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, it is ok.

If I hold it for an hour, I will have an ache in my arm.

If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance.

It is exactly the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, we will not be able to carry on, the burden becoming increasingly heavier.  What we have to do is put the glass down, rest for a while before hold it up again.  We have to put down the burden periodically, so that we can be refreshed and are able to carry on.”

Whatever burdens you are having now, let them down for a moment.  Ask Jesus to help you carry the load when you pick it up again.  It is not intended that we do it alone…Jesus has promised:  “I am with you always….”

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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Just before Easter, we got an unusual donation to our Vocations Office. A St. John’s Seminary student, Thanh-Tai Nguyen gave us a check for a portion of the sponsorship money he had raised by running his first marathon. Through generous donations from his friends, family, and the people of St. Hedwig’s and St. John’s, Thanh-Tai was able to raise over $1,200 in support of his run. After the marathon, he distributed the funds to Vocation Offices throughout Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. The Sisters of Notre Dame were privileged to receive one of the donations.

Thanh-Tai prayed for vocations during his run, and said of the experience, “This is my first marathon and I am very happy that I did it. I was exhausted but I ran with love and joy.”

Many thanks to Thanh-Tai and his supporters from all of us at the Sisters of Notre Dame. Congratulations on your first marathon, and we wish you many more happy years of running!

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