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This post was written by our provincial superior, Sister Mary Anncarla Costello, in honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

The California province of the Sisters of Notre Dame has a corporate stance against human trafficking. We share a very special association and long-time partnership with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) and it is a privilege for me to serve as president of CAST’s board. I wanted to share an idea with you that I am extending to other groups as well.

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Are you looking for a way to make an impact on our society—or at least the part of it in which we live? Why not get involved with a very worthy cause close to our hearts? I would like to invite you to consider holding a short gathering of your friends/coworkers/parishioners and acquaint them not only with CAST but with some education about human trafficking. CAST has a wonderful PowerPoint which you could present at your gathering. Here’s how the gathering might go:

  • Simple refreshments
  • Welcome
  • Opening prayer
  • Why you are doing this (to give feet to our “corporate stance” and do something concrete to raise awareness)
  • Show the PowerPoint
  • Allow for reactions and conversation
  • Invite participants to pray for victims of trafficking and those committed to assist them
  • Invite those who wish to leave a donation payable to CAST
  • Thanks and departure

This could easily be done in about 75-90 minutes and what a difference it could make in terms of raising awareness and support for CAST!

If you are interested, please contact me during January (Trafficking Awareness Month) and I can provide you with the PowerPoint, materials, and maybe even a speaker if you would rather have someone else present the PowerPoint. Email me at acostello@sndca.org and use the link below to learn more about the excellent work that CAST does to combat slavery and trafficking.

VISIT THE CAST WEBSITE

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

The tradition of gift-giving at Christmas stems from the reality of God’s gift to us in the person of Jesus.  Although we tire of black Friday, pre-Christmas/post-Christmas advertising and all the commercialism that surrounds gift-giving, abundant reflection awaits us.

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With gift-giving comes the ever essential wish list. As children, after we sat on Santa’s lap, whoever accompanied us to see Santa would carefully ask us what we had requested of him. Now families who are adopted by various charities provide wish lists of their needs and desires. And anyone can create a wish list on Amazon.com.

In John 4:10 Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “If only you knew the gifts God wants to give you.” We might flip this idea of a wish list. As the calendar year comes to a close, we might take stock of our recent spiritual and relational life. Then ask the Spirit, “What are the gifts you want to give me?” or “What is on your wish list for me?”

In Mary we find a model of great receptivity. Humbly I might ask her for the grace to be receptive to the gifts God wants to give me—this Advent, this Christmas and in the New Year. And a fitting New Year’s resolution might be the commitment and courage to ask this question in our daily examination of conscience: “O God, what are the gifts you want to give me?”

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

It seems hard to believe that we have already reached the second week of the Advent season, when we revisit the story of John the Baptist calling out to us in the words of Isaiah: “Make ready the way of the Lord! Clear him a straight path!”

We might choose to lament that “making ready” has come to mean decorating and shopping, planning, scheduling and traveling; but how sad it is if we don’t move beyond those thoughts to make our own preparation for the coming of the Lord. Imagine how Mary was preparing in those last weeks before her son’s birth. She had to be so focused on that life within her, what his birth would mean, how her life would change. She was clearly making ready and clearing the path for him.

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So, we may need to ask ourselves: What am I doing this Advent that is different than previous years to make ready the way of the Lord in my heart, in my life with others, in the larger world? What am I actively doing to clear Him a straight path?

We need to make within us place and space. This may mean that we need to focus on gratitude and joy, and weed out the negative and our tendency to judge others. It may mean that we are called to simplify our life in some way: reduce our commitments and our busy-ness; clear out our possessions to pass on to others; challenge our own decisions so we give time and attention to relationships that are healthy and helpful.

Maybe this year, clearing the path is about dealing with a thorny relationship, or something we are holding on to which blocks the path for the Lord’s presence. Perhaps it’s about reaching beyond ourselves and forming new relationships with persons who have something to offer from a background, culture, experience, or education that is different from our own.

It may mean that we spend more time in silence and prayer to foster a greater openness within, a clearing out of our own heart, to make way for the message God has for us. As we celebrate this week of Advent, how will we respond to the question: Will I be ready to hear what he has to say to me this year?

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With sadness in our hearts and gratitude for her friendship and good example, the Sisters of Notre Dame announce the death of Sister Mary Donnamay Weigler on Saturday, October 24, just one month short of her 87th birthday.

Sister Mary Donnamay was an only child whose mother died unexpectedly when she was 11 months old. Although her father eventually remarried, Sister later wrote: “It was my grandmother who raised me and had the greatest influence on me during my early years.”
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A devoted educator and musician, Sister Mary Donnamay enjoyed reading the newspaper and working on jigsaw puzzles. Before she passed into eternity last Saturday, a number of residents and nurses at Mary Health of the Sick Nursing Home in Newbury Park commented that Sister never complained about anything. The SNDs who lived with her over the years can attest to her patience and good example.

During her life, Sister always felt especially close to the Blessed Virgin. As she explained: “Three special events in my life happened on a Saturday. I was born on a Saturday, entered religious life on a Saturday, and made Perpetual Vows on a Saturday.” Lastly, Sister Mary Donnamay quietly went home to God on Saturday, October 24.

We thank and praise God for the many graces that she shared with each of us. We can be confident that she will be our powerful intercessor until that day when we see her again. 

Those interested in celebrating the life of Sister Mary Donnamay can join the Sisters of Notre Dame on Saturday, October 31, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. at Notre Dame Center (1776 Hendrix Avenue, Thousand Oaks 91360) for a visitation. A service will follow at 10:00 a.m. officiated by the Revered Padriac Loftus, Pastor Emeritus at Saint Mel’s Church in Woodland Hills.

Click here to see Sister’s obituary on the Ventura County Star website. 

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The Sisters of Notre Dame were recently featured in the Acorn Newspaper! Click the link here to read the article.

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By Sister Mary Rebekah Kennedy, SND

The time of Lent is a concentrated period in which we gaze contemplatively at the face of Jesus. Each of us might search for something different in his eyes – acceptance, understanding, love, forgiveness, or guidance.

We often approach Jesus aware of and burdened down with our failings, our shortcomings, our biases. My wish for all of us at this season, however, is that in our contemplation of the face of Jesus we might see not our faults and foibles reflected in his eyes but that we might see ourselves as only he sees us. In the Spiritual Canticle, John of the Cross writes:

When You regarded me
Your eyes imprinted your grace in me,
In this, You loved me again,
And thus my eyes merited
to also love what You see in me…
Let us go forth together to see
ourselves in Your beauty.

These words give me hope. They remind me that God has made me in His Divine Image. The faults and flaws that I see in myself are invisible to his eyes. When I am present to Jesus as my constant companion I am able to see myself reflected in his eyes and to love myself as He loves me. I then can become a true reflection of the Divine Image.

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They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” John 12:21. Is this not what I ask of God every day? What a grace in my life it would be if, on a daily basis, Jesus and I went forth together, my eyes seeing in myself and in others the goodness He sees and loves. When Jesus looks at me, he does not see a fragmented person. He sees me whole and holy, as he made me, his beauty reflected in me. Gazing on the face of Jesus, loving in myself what he unconditionally loves in me can lead me to also see others as a reflection of his beauty.

And so, during this Lenten season, what will each of us seek? Will I seek my own way? My own preferences? A front-row seat to my own opinions? Or will I seek the face of Jesus, asking Him to hold me as well as every person in His loving gaze, going forth together (Jesus, my family and friends, myself) to see ourselves in His beauty.

 

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