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Posts Tagged ‘Mission’

African sisters celebrate after taking their vows

The missions of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Africa have attracted many young African women to deepen their faith and to answer the call to religious life. During their religious formation, novices and postulants from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda receive initial instruction together at the international formation house in Njiro, Tanzania. This formation experience goes far beyond quiet prayer, contemplation, and study, to include active ministry and outreach to the surrounding communities.

The Holy Childhood Association engages Catholic youth in mission to neighboring youth in dire need. The program is very popular in Africa and can be found in nearly every parish in Tanzania. The Njiro parish has over 70 children participants. The women in formation help strengthen the program by teaching prayers and catechism, assisting the children with works of mercy, encouraging contribution to the poor, and attending the Sunday children’s Mass. Their ministry to children goes beyond the Holy Childhood Association, however. The novices and postulants have also been asked to teach religion classes once a week in the government school.

SND novices and postulants also meet weekly with villagers in small Christian communities. A community can have as many as 18 families, who take turns hosting the gathering. The community shares Scripture and reflections, and prays the rosary. If a family is in special need, the group offers financial assistance. Special classes are given to the children, who are taught prayers, songs and bible stories. The Novices and Postulants do not all speak the local language fluently, and while that is a challenge for them, they find that they are always able to communicate God’s love to the families they serve.

Once a week women in formation visit neighboring families in the village, where they minister to women, children and the sick. The families find relief in sharing their pain and struggles with the novices and postulants. Those in formation share faith experiences, comforting words, and answer questions about the way they live their life. The visit ends with praying together. Although the villagers don’t always understand what it means to be a sister, they are always grateful for the visits.

The ministry and outreach that the SND postulants and novices perform are a foundational part of their spiritual development, and their outreach experiences are opportunities for growth even in challenges. Ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of their neighbors helps prepare these young women for lives lived for Jesus and his mission.

– Sr. Mary Bernadette Pendola, SND

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An insightful meditation on being patient with the now and not yet:

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient on everything; to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time, (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming in you will be. Give the lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete”.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

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This past sunday was Super Bowl Sunday, and we here at Providence House decided to throw a party. At last year’s Super Bowl, we opened our house up to the other convents in our province for some sisterly camaraderie and football. What a great time we had! So, to see if we could out do ourselves, we decided to do it again this year, but in an expanded format: we opened the party up to include not only Sisters, but many of our core lay ministers at the parish and their families as well. We celebrated with gusto, and of course great food (a Notre Dame specialty)! What a fantastic day of friends, family and community! We had kids sitting on the floors, husbands and wives rallying team spirit for each team’s cheering sections, and the Sisters, of course, screaming with great enthusiasm “Go Saints!”

Sharing time with our friends and families reminds us what a wonderful gift we have in each other, and the places where we come together are indeed holy. I’ve found that the Glory of God can be found in the most common of places, and last Sunday it was in a convent living room with our beloved friends and family.

Blessings!

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Our pastor recently said in a homily, “In order to get to Heaven, you need a letter of reference from the poor.” This message resounded in my heart and I prayed for guidance pondering, “Will I get in?”

A few weeks later I was in downtown L.A. on business.  Astounded by the number of homeless and realizing how they had become “invisible” to most commuters, I asked a few people that were attending our meeting, “What can we do?”  Providentially, a few folks had the answer!  We are hoping to form a consortium of six or seven churches to collaborate in a “van project” that will serve meals to the homeless on a daily basis, concentrating on those parts of L.A. that are now underserved.  We are still very much in the research and planning stages. but the goal is to have our wheels moving by next autumn.  We know we won’t solve the entire problem, but, in the words of St. Julie, “You are not asked to do all the good in the world, but only the good that is within your power.” Please join us in prayer for this new venture!

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saintsofrussiaThis morning in prayer I came upon a favorite passage of mine in the book of Jeremiah. The passage (Jr 20:7-9) speaks perfectly of the fire within the Saints, that burning urgency to serve the Lord, and a passionate love that compels one to action.

“You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced; You have overpowered me: You were the stronger… ”

“For me the Lords’ word has been the cause of insult and derision all day long. I would say to myself, “I will not think about Him, I will not speak in His name any more”, but then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not do it.”

Let us pray with our companions in Heaven that we too might cultivate a fire so bright as to be unable to suppress its light.

All Gods’ Angels and Saints, pray for us.

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13_rays_fog_trees_rmbFrom time to time I pick up a volume that never ceases to challenge me. The book “Abandonment to God” by Jean-Pierre De Caussade, S.J., (d.1751) calls the reader to give each moment of the day to God, trusting that His Providence has ordered everything for our good. “The present moment is an ever-flowing source of holiness,” Caussade says, “and all will be well if we abandon ourselves to the will of God.” Of course, suffering from “spiritual amnesia”, I eventually fall back into feeling that I alone am responsible for the proper running of the world. Still, his advice is a powerful antidote for habits of worry and control: dwelling on the past, fearing for the future, gnawing on regrets, and anticipating the worst.

What if, as curators of our own contentment, we followed Caussade’s advice and cultivated habits of recollection, of a loving awareness of God’s presence and providence? Nothing in our day would lack meaning or peace, for we would discover that the peace we seek is already within us.

“The well of Providence is deep. It’s the buckets we bring to it that are small.” Mary Webb

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FCB_SBA_0042Time for another vocation story, this one from our newest candidate Rhea:

“My desire to become a sister began to stir in me as far back as I can recall. However, at age sixteen, I let go of the thought. To my knowledge no sign from the Lord was given to me. In my childlike ignorance, I assumed God would provide me with a supernatural event that would make clear to me that my desires were His as well, and not merely the romantic notions of a young girl. After a period of loss and acceptance; I then proceeded to live my life pursuing the secular goals of family and career.

I have had a fulfilling life which includes a loving family, good friends, a rewarding career and a rich spiritual journey. However, I am now at a turning point. With exception to the gift of motherhood; no pursuit, accomplishment, or relationship; has fulfilled me other than my love for Christ and His love for me. So at this point I have given myself permission to take the time to discern what He truly wants for me. I am drawn to the Sisters of Notre Dame for their vitality, devotion to witnessing to God’s goodness and provident care, and undying desire to serve God’s people with vigor, humor, and humility”.

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