Posts Tagged ‘Mission’

In 2008 the Sisters of Notre Dame began offering nursery school for impoverished children between the ages of three and six as part of the sisters’ mission in Buseesa, Uganda. Nursery school is so valuable in Buseesa because children there receive little educational preparation at home. These children often live in mud huts with simple openings in the walls for air, usually with a thatched roof and sometimes with galvanized tin. There is no electricity to allow them to study at night. They are fed whatever their parents can cultivate on their small plot of land, if they have one. Many of our nursery school students are fed their first meal of the day at school.

Since 2008 hundreds of children have received loving care and patient instruction from sisters and dedicated lay teachers. Today 100 children are enrolled at the nursery school. It includes three classes, which are all taught in the two-room basement of our former convent building.

In 2015 we set out to raise $125,000 to build a new nursery school on the same property to accommodate for the growth of this program. The design features a free-standing building with three classrooms, office space, and an outdoor gathering area for assemblies, a play area with a swing set, pit latrines, and an outdoor kitchen.

Several generous donors have already contributed to the project, bringing our total raised to $107,000. One of those special donors is the congregation at Saint Julie Billiart Church in Newbury Park, California. Saint Julie’s raised an astounding $21,000 in support of the nursery school. We broke ground on the building in the fall of 2015.

Above are a few photos of the nursery school’s construction. Primer is being applied to all of the buildings at this time. The photos are of the kitchen, the administrative wing and the classroom block. There is also a front gate standing at the entrance to the school. Still to come are electricity and solar panels, and the water tanks and furniture. 

The Sisters of Notre Dame would like to extend thanks to all who have contributed to this project. We ask for your continued prayers for its successful completion!

“I very personally see your spiritual and monetary contributions at work in the Uganda mission. None of this would have been possible without you! Thank you, thank you! Webale muno!”

– Sister Mary Colette Theobald, Uganda Missionary

To learn more about the mission in Uganda or to make a donation, visit our website. 


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Next week we will host our annual donor appreciation brunch and open house at Notre Dame Center in Thousand Oaks, California. In the spirit of thanksgiving, Sister Mary Colette Theobald, who is currently serving in Uganda, wrote a letter of appreciation to our many spiritual and monetary supporters. Uganda 081

Dearest Benefactors,

I want to personally thank you for all the support you give to the Sisters of Notre Dame. I very personally see your spiritual and monetary contributions at work in the Uganda mission. The Sisters of Notre Dame have been in Uganda for 20 years.  The primary school began in 1998, formation for young sisters in 2002, the secondary school in 2003, nursery school in 2007 and a second community in 2009. Construction for a new nursery school for Buseesa has started. There are 12 Ugandan Sisters. Ten more are in the novitiate in Tanzania. Hundreds of young people have benefited from a strong Notre Dame education. Those who have completed their studies are beginning to return to their villages to uplift the standard of living of the people there. None of this would have been possible without you! Thank you, thank you! Webale muno! God bless you! Ruhanga asiimwe.

Thank you, too, for all the other ways you help and support the Sisters of Notre Dame: ministry projects, housing support and renovation, and support for our wonderful aged sisters who gave so much to serve God and His people. May God bless each and every one of you with all the graces and blessings you need at this time.

Please be assured of many prayers for yourself and your families from all of us in Uganda!

Lovingly and gratefully yours,

Sister Mary Colette, SND
Mpala, Uganda

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Inspiring Catholic school educators with the charism of the Sisters of Notre Dame is one of Sister Marie Paul Grech’s top priorities. Put simply, that charism (or what the sisters believe) is that God is good and provides for us. They strive to look at the world with hope; and what could be more important in a classroom than a positive attitude?

Sister Marie Paul loves this part of her ministry. Her love for teachers and her respect for the role they play in the lives of their students shows in her dedication to faculty and staff retreats.

“These men and women who give of themselves so generously to touch the hearts of the young are always an inspiration to me. It’s a real joy to continue spreading our Notre Dame charism and spirit,” Sister said.

She taught secondary school for more than 30 years in Ventura and LA counties, as well as in the sisters’ mission in Uganda, Africa. Armed with her faith and a lifetime of experience as a sister, Sister Marie Paul shows others how to infuse their classrooms with joy and compassion.

“Teachers continue our mission in our sponsored and affiliate schools where we are no longer physically present. God’s call to teachers in every Catholic school is vibrant and it is my joy to be part of their ongoing response to that call,” she said.

Sister recently led a retreat for 20 teachers from Saint Jude the Apostle School in Westlake, Calif. The retreat began with a morning Mass and breakfast, followed by small group discussions and a video presentation.DSC_0455

“Your job” Sister Marie Paul told the group “is to help children connect the dots- between science and religion, between what they learn on the playground and in the classroom. Your job is to teach them how to learn.”

Deana Herrera (pictured at right in the photo below) has taught at Saint Jude the Apostle School for seven years. She was motivated to apply Sister Marie Paul’s lessons in her fourth-grade classroom.

“Her positive spirit reminds us to see the good in our everyday lives,” Herrera said. “Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, one of my students will say something really funny. Those moments are God saying ‘Lighten up!’”DSC_0470

Sister Marie Paul is the coordinator of Kindred Hearts Ministries (KHM). KHM offers prayer programs, spiritual events, retreats and many other services for local parishioners provided by the Sisters of Notre Dame. To learn more about KHM, visit www.sndca.org/khm or email Sister Marie Paul at mgrech@sndca.org. Click here for the KHM calendar of events.


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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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Well, we are on countdown mode over here until the term ends….at least I am! The students are working hard at their studies and teachers are teaching, praise God. Tomorrow, we have the student council induction ceremony for the new officers.  Since our P7 students will be in a very serious mode of study for the third term, they relinquish their student council duties at this time and pass on these offices to the next group. The new student council members will shadow the outgoing members for a week or two when we begin the third term and then the new officers take over.  So tomorrow we have an assembly for the entire school to witness the “passing of the torch” to the next group. The current president will be introduced and then the new president is announced. They meet in the middle of the stage, give each other a hug and the outgoing president takes the student council tie that she is wearing and puts it on the newly elected president. Each outgoing officer follows the same procedure until all of the new student council members have been introduced and given the student council tie. The newly elected officers even take an oath of office by placing their hand on the Bible and promising to be good role models to others. Pretty impressive, no so?!


Sister Mary Paulynne on the play field

Thursday, August 7, is the Citizenship Honor Roll assembly in our dining hall. The students that have merited good conduct will receive certificates from their teachers in the presence of the entire student body. The students receiving this award will get a sweetie (a piece of candy) from me and then when they come back to begin the third Term of school in September these lovely children will be rewarded with a movie! They LOVE this treat, believe me! After the assembly it will be time to clean the classrooms and the students will remove items from their student desks and lockers. The rest of the morning and early afternoon is spent cleaning their dorms, washing and cleaning their clothes and packing their cases for home.

Friday, August 8, is departure day. After our morning assembly of prayer and flag salute the students proceed to their classrooms, put their cases outside and wait on the veranda or on the grassy section below the classroom block until their parents arrive. The teachers and several classroom helpers are assigned to supervise the students while they are waiting. Many times lorries (large trucks), or taxis (which are the size of a VW van) take children home who live in the same village or nearby neighborhoods. Occasionally, boda-boda drivers (a motorcycle with an extended back seat) take individual students home who live nearby. Transport is expensive here so parents find the most economical and creative ways to get their children home safely for the holiday. While all of this fabulous activity is going on, our administrative team: Sister Bernarde, Teacher John and I are in the staff room greeting the parents and accepting school fee payments from this p
previous term and a down payment for term three.

So you can see why I am on a countdown for the holiday to begin! But hey, it is never boring here and it is such a joy for me to see the sparkle in the children’s eyes when their parents arrive!  And oh yes, the gleam of happiness when the parents see their children well and happy is an added joy!

So I wish you blessings and thank you again for your prayers for ALL of us!  Continue to pray for rain…we only got a drizzle yesterday!

Love to you,

Sister Mary Paulynne Tubick

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This article and photo are courtesy of the SND Toledo Province communication team.

Sister Mary Tina Petrick has always taught elementary school-aged children. When she departs for Uganda on February 27, 2014 she will co-direct a nursery school with Sister Maria Ruthilde, while Sister Mary Sunday and others teach the class.

In February of 2011, Notre Dame Nursery School opened in Lyamutundewe, Uganda.  The Uganda mission is jointly sponsored by the  SND provinces of Covington, KY, and Thousand Oaks, CA.

Approximately 105 children between the ages of 3 and 6 are currently enrolled.  Children registered in the program learn to sing, dance and play musical instruments that help them build on their social and interactive skills while strengthening their English.  The program runs from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with most children attending the after school program which runs until 4:30 p.m.

Sister Tina will work with the teachers a lot in her new ministry and will live with the candidates (pre-postulants).

“I’m very excited about my new ministry and look forward to working with the children and their teachers,” she said.

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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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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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I am sure you have had the experience of hearing a song, once or many times over, and the refrain sticks in your mind….What is coming to my mind right now is a song refrain “because we love God, we do what we do….because we love God.”  The words seem rather simple, and yet there are layers of meaning here….if we were to sit down and identify “what we do”…each day, each week—and ask ourselves the question, “Am I doing this because I love God?” or, to put it another way, “Does what I do reflect my love for God?  –or does my love for something else…myself, my own interests, my prejudices, my fears…creep in?

So many times we cannot understand why Jesus calls us to do something difficult; we cannot explain why our Catholic tradition asks us to do or not to do something; we hesitate to make the sacrifice entailed in caring for others selflessly. When we experience these challenges, the phrase “Because we love God…” might ring in our ears and resound in our hearts…and help us do what we need to do. There may not be a logical, practical answer to the questions we have…but our love for our God who made us, calls us, blesses us might give us the courage we need to do what we know is right.  A little anecdote to illustrate:  In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle is fed up with Freddy’s letters and his daily protestations of love.  In total frustration, she sings the song, “Show me.” In the song she says she’s sick of words…”if there’s any love burning in your heart,” she sings, “show me.” And so it is with our love for God…love is not love until it is put into action.  God bless your week—may it be filled with love!

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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