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Posts Tagged ‘service’

“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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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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At the end of the school year, the Sisters of Notre Dame attended a Many Mansions award ceremony. They watched proudly as 20 students received academic scholarships, four of which were donated by the sisters. Sister Mary Joan Schlotfeldt was moved by ceremony.

“I felt proud to be a Sister of Notre Dame and be able to help those who are pursuing an education,” she said.

Many Mansions is a non-profit that builds and maintains affordable housing complexes for low-income families in Ventura County and the Conejo Valley. According to the Many Mansions website, the organization owns and manages over 500 units, housing about 1,000 adults and 300 children. They also provide on-site services including job training, case management, homework literacy, free summer camp for kids and a scholarship program called Vicky’s Fund.

Sister Mary Lisa Megaffin first became involved with Many Mansions as a board member in 1995. While serving on the board, Sister Mary Lisa met Marty and Eileen Garcia.

“When I first joined the board I had a lot to learn about affordable housing. Whenever we were deliberating a major topic, Marty would always ask ‘How does this relate to our mission?’ Our growing friendship and collaboration gave me opportunities to observe him, his faith and his concern for those in need,” said Sister Mary Lisa.

Sister Mary Lisa Megaffin at Notre Dame Center in May.

Sister Mary Lisa Megaffin at Notre Dame Center in May.

Several years later, the Garcias became Associates with the Sisters of Notre Dame.

“Growing up, my perception of nuns was completely different from the experience I’ve had with the Sisters of Notre Dame,” said Marty. “They’re out in the world, actually living their charism. Sister Lisa has made a huge impact on Many Mansions. She and I go way back, so we’re really able to see the growth that Many Mansions has had.”

The Garcias started Vicky’s Fund three years ago in memory of Marty’s mother, Victoria Garcia. A child of Spanish immigrants to the U.S., Victoria was only able to obtain a 4th grade education before she had to begin working to help her family. As an adult, she volunteered as a bilingual teacher’s aide until she was in her mid-eighties.

“After my mother’s funeral, people came up to me and told me what an impact she had on them. She had an innate ability to recognize that the children in her classes couldn’t focus on their studies because they came from unstable home environments. She set out to make the classroom a safe place and build up their God-given talents and self-esteem. I asked myself what I could do to extend her vision. It dawned on me to start a scholarship within Many Mansions,” said Marty.

In three years, 48 students have received a total of $23,000 in scholarships through Vicky’s Fund and Many Mansions. Scholarship recipients range in age and academic goals. Some are young students preparing for college, and others are adults earning their GED or taking vocational training classes. The main requirement for the scholarship is that the recipient is a resident at a Many Mansions property.

“We want to offer something that will help with their finances and build up their self-esteem,” said Marty. “Seeing their appreciation lets me know I’m doing the right thing. I started the scholarship in honor of my mother, but it’s given me so much more than I could have imagined.”

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The Sisters of Notre Dame have a few Advent traditions that they hold dear. One such tradition is their annual service project. This year, the sisters spent three weeks shopping for children’s toys to donate to the Ventura County Rescue Mission, which serves homeless families in Ventura County. Today, Sister Shirley (second from left) and Sister Rebekah (second from right) delivered those toys to the mission in Oxnard.
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In cooperation with Saint Paschal Baylon Catholic Church in Thousand Oaks, the sisters prepared gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has sent Christmas gifts to 100 million children world-wide. Volunteers pack and wrap shoeboxes full of goodies which are collected in mid-November. You can find instructions for packing your own shoebox gift here.

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Over the weekend, three Sisters of Notre Dame were busy picking fruit in a private orchard in Camarillo. They were volunteering for the Food Forward program, which gathers volunteers to pick excess produce to donate to local agencies. Lots of local property owners have more produce on their property than they need or have the resources to harvest. Food Forward donates 100% of the fruit and vegetables that volunteers pick to hungry individuals in the area. Sister Rebekah (left), Sister Shirley (right), Sister Betty Mae (bottom forth from left) and their team of pickers collected large bins full of fruit.

To sign up to volunteer for Food Forward call (818) 530-4125.

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