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“We are always climbing the mountain, but Jubilee is a time to pause and enjoy the view,” said Sister Rose Marie Tulacz, who celebrated 40 years, as a Sister of Notre Dame on July 11, surrounded by her loved ones. On Jubilee day, Sister Rose Marie renewed her vows in the company of three other Sisters of Notre Dame. “The faith and courage the Jubilarians witness to in their call to religious life inspires me. Courage and faithful commitment is an undervalued trait in today’s society,”

At the age of 18 after high school graduation, Sister Rose Marie entered the convent in 1972. She gratefully recalls her former novice directress, Sister Mary Damien, who mentored and encouraged a life of prayer, service and fortitude. After pronouncing first vows in 1975 as a Sister of Notre Dame, Sister Rose Marie taught for 16 years at the primary, elementary, and junior high level.

Since 1993, Sister is a photographer specializing in spiritual and humanitarian outreach. The Notre Dame Creations ministry has taken her around the globe where she has passionately deepened her engagement with the mission of the Church, scripture, and the family of God. Sister combines her gifts of liturgical and fine art photography, as well as writing, speaking, retreats, spiritual direction, and parish missions. In 2004, Sister Rose Marie produced a fine art book of photography and inspirational writing entitled In the Between. Proceeds from the book enabled the Sisters of Notre Dame in Tanzania and Kenya to build the Zinduka Women’s Center, Notre Dame School for elementary and high school students, Aloysia Orphanage, and Notre Dame Primary School.

In April of this year, Sister Rose Marie traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas for an immersion experience at the border of Mexico. She joined several Sisters of Notre Dame, all from different American Provinces, to minister at the border. She described her experience there, “witnessing the desperation of migrants facing deportation” as life changing. “I am grateful for the grace to respond to the call to come to the border and be unsettled by truth. I am grateful that despite the often-painful topics and emotional encounters, I see Jesus in the volunteers, the sisters and the immigrants,” she said.

Sister recently completed graduate studies in Pastoral Theology and Ministry at Boston College. She will be exhibiting Notre Dame Creations at the Papal World Family Meeting in the Philadelphia Convention Center. September 21-25, 2015.

Left, Themi Slums, Njiro, Anisha, Tanzania, East Africa Sr. Roshmi on left, Sr. Rose Marie holding child

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Over 100 guests came out for Sister Mary Kathleen’s talk on “Your Prayer Toolbox” last week at Theology on Tap. Did you miss out? Check out the clip below!

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Sister Mary Therese Kirstein knows that it takes true perseverance to be a sister. She entered the convent during her senior year of high school, and will celebrate her 65th anniversary as a sister on July 11. Listen as she reflects on the highs and lows of her ministry.

On the meaning of Jubilee:

On growing up and entering the convent in Cleveland:

On her ministry as a teacher and a chaplain:

On facing the end of life:

On her trip to visit the former home of Saint Julie Billiart, spiritual mother of the Sisters of Notre Dame:

On the gift of perseverance:

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Sister Mary Kathleen Burns will help launch the summer season of Theology on Tap (TOT) with her talk tomorrow evening on “Building Your Prayer Tool Box.”

“Theology on Tap is meant to reach young people on the margins, to make them feel comfortable in a relaxed setting with a bit of theology thrown in,” Sister Mary Kathleen said.

The information below is excerpted from the official website of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

TOT is open to all young adults, ages 18 to 39, singles and couples, regardless of religious affiliation, who want to explore the role of faith in their daily lives. Created in 1981, TOT is a nationally recognized speaker and fellowship program that has brought young adults to the church for more than 30 years. In this casual atmosphere, you’ll hear straight talk and honest answers to your deepest questions about faith, love, work and other real life experiences. TOT provides an opportunity to learn about the Catholic faith, meet like-minded people and make new friends.

Details regarding Sister Mary Kathleen’s talk are below. Check out the Archdiocese of Los Angeles website for a full list of TOT’s happening this summer. You can also subscribe to TOT’s newsletter or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

July 9: Theology on Tap @ St. Cornelius, Long Beach

5500 E. Wardlow Rod., Long Beach, 90808
Doors open at 7pm; program starts at 7:30pm

Sr. Kathleen Burns, SND: Building your Prayer Tool Box

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Sister Mary Bernadette Pendola entered the convent when she was just 18 years old. On July 11 she will celebrate her 50th year as a Sister of Notre Dame. Listen below as Sister talks about her joyful first years in the convent, her travels abroad and the lessons she’s learned from life.

On her kindergarten teacher, who inspired her to consider becoming a sister:

On her family’s reaction to her vocation:

On choosing her name:

On feeling excited to be a sister:

On her call to be a missionary nurse in Uganda, Africa:

On her pilgrimage to Lourdes, France and her struggle to accept her Parkinson’s diagnosis:

On the meaning of Jubilee:

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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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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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Saint Julie Billiart is the spiritual mother of the Sisters of Notre Dame, since she was not living when the religious order began, but the order is based on her spirituality and teachings. She was born on July 12, 1751; died on April 8, 1816; and was canonized on June 22, 1969.

Marie Rose Julie Billiart (as she was baptized) was born in the French village of Cuvilly during the French Revolution.  Even as a young child, Julie’s love for the good God was apparent to all who knew her. She told bible stories and taught about Jesus to neighboring children.

As a young woman several things happened to her and her family which left them in poverty and traumatized her in such a way that she was paralyzed and had difficulty speaking. In spite of these physical handicaps, Julie served God by preparing children for their First Communion. She offered spiritual guidance to adults who came to her because of her wisdom, goodness and love of God, even in the midst of all her suffering.

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With her friend, Francoise Blin de Bourdon, Julie, then 53 years old, began a religious community of sisters: the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  These women wanted to follow Julie and Francoise in their dedication to God, their spreading of the message that God is good, and their work teaching poor children. Julie was still paralyzed when a priest asked her to pray for an unknown special intention. This special intention was Julie’s cure, so after 23 years of being paralyzed, Julie began to walk. She was able then to travel to all the places her sisters were in order to help them become sisters and teachers. She wrote many letters and made many journeys to her sisters until she died in 1816.

Two other religious communities of sisters were founded after Julie Billiart died that are also called Sisters of Notre Dame. Their way of living as sisters and relating to God comes from Saint Julie Billiart. One of these religious communities is the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld, Germany, and they eventually came to the United States and became the congregation we know today.

Prayer from the Mass of Saint Julie

Almighty and eternal God, you called Saint Julie Billiart to respond joyfully to the love of your crucified Son in dedicating herself to the education of the poor. Grant that her prayer and example may inspire us to respond with love to His Cross, in serving the needs of others with true goodness of heart. Amen.

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Sister Mary Regina Robbins led a discussion last week on good listening, and the power we have to make others feel loved by really listening to them. See the whole talk here:

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