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Posts Tagged ‘Sister Mary Grace Leung’

This post is part of our Advent Reflection Series – a collection of original blog posts written by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

In today’s reading from the Gospel according to Luke, Mary rushes to visit with her cousin Elizabeth. The Angel Gabriel told Mary that Elizabeth was with child, and Mary herself was to bear the Son of God. Both women discovered in each other a mystery that they did not fully understand, and yet they were filled with the joy of eager anticipation.

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What struck me about this scripture passage was the faith and humility of Elizabeth. She is humbled to be visited by the future mother of her Lord. She will share in the joy of motherhood with Mary, her relative. How often do we have the grace to share such an intimate moment with a friend, relative or even a stranger, knowing that God is making known his presence in us?

I have a friend, Brittney, whom I consider to be my sister. We share many things in common, but what binds us is our faith in Jesus. We pray the rosary together whenever possible, and we have confidence that no matter the challenges that we face in our life journey, we share in the joy of God’s love and mystery. We feel God’s presence through one another.

As we draw closer to celebrating Christmas, we are called to remember and reflect on the blessings of the people who have touched us with their wisdom and witness of their lives of faith. How can we reflect the presence of God to others as we say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”?

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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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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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Fourth Sunday of Lent
The Blind Man Sees
By Sister Mary Grace Leung

 “A blind man sees the light; Our eyes open when we live with Jesus”
John 9:1-41

The text from John’s Gospel invites us to meditate on the healing of a man born blind. As we read the Gospel, we notice how the blind man reacts to the negative reactions of the authorities and the way the blind man opens his eyes concerning Jesus.

The blind man cannot but witness to the truth: “I was blind and now I can see!” The Pharisees question him again and the blind man answers: “I have told you once….Do you want to become his disciples too?” The light of faith grows in the blind man when faced with the blindness of the Pharisees. He does not accept the logic of the Pharisees and confesses that Jesus comes from the Father. The blind man’s profession of faith causes his expulsion from the synagogue because those who professed faith in Jesus Christ had to break all family and community ties. Even today, those who decide to be faithful to Jesus run the risk of persecution or exclusion.

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I was once a catechumen preparing for my full initiation into the Church. Lent is a time of remembrance of the anticipation and hope I felt for my baptism and profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I too was faced with doubt from some of my friends and relatives who did not receive the gift of faith that I had. However, like the blind man, I came to full faith in Jesus step by step. My eyes were opened to see Jesus as my Savior and my God through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Jesus does not abandon those who are persecuted for his sake. He meets the man again, and invites the man to go one step further in his faith. Jesus asks: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man replies: “Sir…tell me who he is that I may believe in him?” Jesus replies: You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.” The blind man exclaims: “Lord, I believe!” And he worships Jesus. He has absolute trust and accepts everything from Jesus. The blind man who could not see ends up seeing better off than the Pharisees; he discovers the light.

We are challenged to face our blindness, whether it’s spiritual blindness or blindness in our thoughts, attitudes or our actions toward others. Jesus comes to heal our blindness and we  see that he is the light of the world. He meets us as we are, in our sinfulness and neediness. Jesus calls us to shed our blindness and to see the world and one another through his eyes!

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Sister Mary Grace Leung reflects on a diversity workshop she attended during Province Day on January 25th.

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Last weekend presenters from the Kaleidoscope Institute were invited by the Ad Gentes Committee (Sisters Mary Lisa, Jane Marie, Mary Paulynne, Florette Marie, Mary Bernadette and myself) to conduct a workshop for our Sisters on developing competent skills for nurturing relationships in our lives and ministries within a multicultural context.  Although many Sisters have extensive experience living and working abroad, the purpose of the workshop was to help us grow in communication skills for the continuously changing diversity around us, to be sensitive to people from different cultures, and to understand ourselves better by examining the cultures we grew up in. 

Each of us is a sum of cultures – family, cultural, geographic, educational, ethnic and professional. The workshop used a variety of methods to explore some of our beliefs, values and personal preferences through table discussions, scripture study and spontaneous responses to the facilitators’ questions. We were encouraged to use listening skills in a deeper way that would be mutually inclusive.  For example, the Kaleidoscope Bible Study Process asks that a scripture passage be read three times. After each reading, participants are invited to share their reflections based on a question posed by the facilitator. Mutual invitation is the process where a participant invites another participant in the group to share their reflection. As a result, everyone is given time to respond and no one is left out.

Another method of discovering oneself was the examination of low and high-context communication styles. For example, a low context person is individually oriented, and focuses on action and solutions. A high context person is group-oriented and focuses on relationships first before taking action.  We discover our preferred working styles and learn how to stretch and accommodate others who have different preferences.

As a result of the workshop, I was reaffirmed in who I am and how I use my communication skills for building community. I was also challenged to recognize that there are many ways to work together. I am bi-cultural, born and raised in New York City by Chinese parents. This workshop shed light on what my communication style is based on all my different “cultures.”  I am really looking forward to part two of this workshop which will be held in March. We are Sisters of Notre Dame looking to a future full of hope, one that will see increasing diversity in our members, and that is truly a wonderful thing!

Sister Mary Grace Leung, SND

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Second Sunday of Advent: Saint Joseph

By Sister Mary Grace Leung

When I was in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program some years ago, I was intrigued with Saint Joseph. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke present Joseph as a man of great faith; a man who was called to be the foster father of Jesus; a man who personified quiet strength and who had the utmost trust in God. Joseph’s tremendous faith stands out especially in Matthew’s infancy narrative. This faith makes Joseph open to receiving and recognizing divine communications through his dreams. Joseph is a model of faith, always listening and doing what God asks him to do without hesitation. His life was totally devoted to God’s plan of salvation by helping to raise the Child conceived in Mary’s womb, no matter what challenges life brought him.

As I learned more about my new-found faith through RCIA, I asked myself, “Can I also be as faith-filled and trusting in God as Joseph was?”

Advent is a season of patient waiting and joyful anticipation of the coming of the Lord. I find that these days of anticipation bring welcome moments of contemplation of the great mystery of the incarnation. Let us take a few moments each day during this busy season to appreciate the graces of our eager longing for Jesus, our Savior!

 

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