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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’

Sister Antoinette Marie Moon is known for having energy to spare. She can be found bustling around Notre Dame Center preparing for guests or tending to the needs of her sisters at all hours of the day. Listen as she pauses to reflect on her 50 years of ministry as a Sister of Notre Dame.

On growing up around sisters:

On her family’s reaction to her decision to join the convent:

On Jubilee as a kind of “wedding anniversary”:

On serving as an Adoration Sister in Rome, Italy:

On working as a missionary in Uganda, Africa:

On the Year of Consecrated Life:

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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 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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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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By Sister Mary Grace Leung, SND

The seasons of the Church’s liturgical year have always been special to me because I entered the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. I was baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2006 and every year I look forward to my anniversary!

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When I learned about Advent in my classes, I made sure it was special by lighting up the Advent candles at home before I had supper. I said all the prayers and pondered on my anticipation of Jesus’ birth. Then Lent came, and I was truly touched by the practice of praying, fasting and giving alms. I was eager to fill my rice bowl for Catholic Charities and I bought food for the homeless whom I greeted along my walks on the streets of the city. Lent helped me realize that I needed to be with and for people who are in need – something that was lacking in my past.

My eagerness and excitement in taking the final steps to my baptism was filled with so many graces. The three scrutinies of the catechumens, the three readings from the Gospel of John about the healing of the man born blind, the raising of Lazarus and the Samaritan woman all pointed me toward conversion experiences that enriched my prayer life and openness to what God was calling me to as a new disciple and member of the Church. What moved me was hearing the voice of Jesus telling me “do you know that I love you?” I said, “Yes, I do!” and every Easter I am reminded of God’s love for me, and that he is always with me in times of darkness as well as in times of joy. God’s love endures and strengthens all of us for the journey, and this is the great blessing of each Easter season.

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Do you know the date of your Baptism?  Some do and some don’t!  For those of us who are cradle Catholics, the details of our baptism are probably not uppermost in our minds.  For those who have experienced adult baptism, it is likely that the details are very much remembered. But in the mind and heart of God, I like to think each and every one of our baptisms is a cause for celebration because it was then that we truly became a son or daughter of God.

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We have recently celebrated the glory of the Easter Vigil and perhaps were able to witness the baptisms of adults and children at that ceremony.  We also renewed our own baptismal promises and during the Easter Season we may have been refreshed by the sprinkling rite, calling to mind those promises.  Do you celebrate your baptism?  At our Provincial Center, we do.  It may seem silly to some, but if we don’t have birthdays to celebrate in a given month, we have a Baptism Night instead.  It is very simple, but it does remind us that we have cause to celebrate the day we became children in God’s special family!

-By Sister Marie Paul Grech, SND

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Palm Sunday
 The Beginning of Holy Week
By Sister Marie Paul Grech

The beginning of Holy Week…sometimes called Palm Sunday, sometimes called Passion Sunday….but which is it?

Typical of our day-to-day experiences, life is filled with multiple names for things, and each name has a different story to tell. When we focus on Palm Sunday, for example,  we direct our attention to the glorious reception Jesus receives from a fickle crowd, a crowd composed perhaps of many of the same people who, less than a week later, would call out for his crucifixion.

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When we focus on Passion Sunday, we fix our gaze on that which is yet to come: the humiliating execution of an innocent man. Yet are not both true? Do not both co-exist and call us to a broader understanding of Jesus, the Son of God who deserves the glory and honor, and the Son of Man who gives up everything to be one of us, especially in our suffering? Isn’t this a reality that we deal with all the time? We are called to live in the world, but not be of the world. We are called to work and to pray. We are called to pray in silence and to pray in community. We are called to work for the kingdom and to trust in God’s action in our lives.

There is no either/or in our following of Jesus, only both/and. We are called to follow Jesus on the road to Calvary, while never forgetting the joys of the Transfiguration. We speak the words, “Crucify Him” with dread and guilt, and yet we know that it is our sins that he carries. We are gifted with discipleship, knowing that like Peter there are days we act as though we do not know him. Palms and Passion are two sides of the same coin. One calls to holiness of life, and one calls to celebration and gratitude for all that our good God has given us through his Son, Jesus Christ.

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Second Sunday of Lent
The Transfiguration: Between Two Mountains
By Sister Mary Kathleen Burns 

Two mountains figure prominently in Jesus’ Life: Mount Tabor and Mount Calvary.

On Mount Tabor Peter, James and John were given a glimpse into Jesus’ divinity. Jesus stood before them, bathed in Trinitarian Light, with Moses representing the Father as Giver of the Law on one side, and Elijah representing the Spirit who has spoken through Prophets on the other.

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How beautiful Jesus must have been! The three apostles basked in the glow. So enthralled were they that Peter suggested they build three tents and remain there. Peter, like us, wanted to stay on the mountain to continue to savor the experience, but Jesus refused to allow him to create a permanent retreat center. He said Peter must go back down the mountain and begin living out this experience in day-to-day life and ministry to God’s people, and ultimately in his own experience of suffering.

Having seen Jesus in glory, we marvel at how quickly the glow faded after coming down the mountain! We wonder how the apostles could have doubted Jesus after all they had witnessed. How could they have betrayed him after seeing his glory? After all, Jesus’ gift of the Transfiguration was to strengthen them for the coming crisis. Mt. Tabor was preparation for the next mountain Jesus would climb where he would be disfigured, hanging not between Moses and Elijah, but between two others, common criminals.

Like the apostles, we too have been chosen and gifted with an experience of God’s love in Jesus Christ. We have the benefit of a long tradition of rich teaching, the Holy Scriptures which are so accessible to us, and the life and grace of the Sacraments, especially the opportunity to receive Eucharist. These are our Tabor experiences which are given us not to revel in, but to prepare us to go down into the valley of life, living out our discipleship in our day-to-day encounters, which at times will challenge us to climb mount Calvary where Jesus seems disfigured.

The Transfiguration teaches us that Jesus is fully present in all these experiences, whether in glory, in the mundane duties of our life, or in suffering. Ultimately, God gives us moments of glory, clarity and insight so that we can also see Him in the ordinary, in the darkness and especially in suffering.

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