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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

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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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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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(From the Sisters of Notre Dame international site at http://snd1.org/.)

The first weekend in September, two Californian Sisters of Notre Dame originally from Korea visited the Incheon Regina Pacis province in Incheon, South Korea.

Sister Mary John Shin and Sister Mary Angela Lee, who made their perpetual professions in California last month, stayed in the provincial house for three days and received many congratulations from the Korean community.

They toured the provincial house during their brief visit and experienced the internationality of the Sisters of Notre Dame. The Korean province appreciated the company and will continue to pray for Sisters Mary John and Angela.

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From left to right: Sister Mary John, Sister Marie Thoma (local superior of the provincial house), Sister Mary Angela, Sister Marie Aquina (provincial superior), Sister Marie Veritas (first assistant [provincial councilor]).

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From left to right: Sister Marie Aquina (provincial superior), Sister Mary John, Sister Mary Angela.

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From left to right: Sister Marie Aquina (provincial superior), Sister Marie Thoma (local superior of the provincial house), Sister Mary John.

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Eighty-nine years ago, the Reverend Mother Mary Cecilia told Sister Mary Bernard to “Go out to California and build a house of love.”

Happy Founders’ Day to the Sisters of Notre Dame, California!Image

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Yesterday, on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we marked the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
This poem, by Fr. Paulson Veliyannoor, is on the juxtaposition of the two events.

How could we keep the memory of these two events on the same day?

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In one, Christ’s body is transfigured;
in the other, Christ’s body is disfigured beyond recognition.

In one, the disciples wake up to the dazzling brightness of the face of Christ;
in the other people were scorched by the blinding brightness of atomic death.

In one, the cloud descended, affirming the belovedness of the Son;
in the other, the cloud rose, condemning human life.

In one, the disciples longed for it to last;
in the other, all longings were reduced to ashes.

How do we keep the memory of these two events on the same day?

Perhaps, by keeping these two memories together,

one day we will learn to see the affirming radiance of Christ in our brothers and sisters,

and thereby learn to love, and not kill.

–Fr. Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF

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Find out about the great work the sisters are doing in Uganda.

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Sisters Betty Mae Bienlein (photo center) and Mary Judeen Julier (photo left), a chaplain at California Hospital in Los Angeles, traveled to Sacramento in June to protest $1 billion cuts to Medi-Cal proposed by Governor Jerry Brown.

The sisters joined thousands  of other protestors on the west lawn of the State Capitol at the “We Are Medi-Cal” rally put on by a coalition of medical organizations including Anthem Blue Cross, the California Medical Association (CMA) and Dignity Health.

“They had us chanting ‘Stop those cuts! Stop those cuts!’” said Sister Betty Mae. “If a congressman came out of the capitol, everyone would get excited.”

Sister Betty Mae explained that cuts to the Medi-Cal budget would affect people who can’t afford medical care, especially women, children and the elderly.

“The state simply cannot continue to balance the budget on the backs of California’s poorest and most vulnerable patients,” said CMA President Paul R. Phinney, M.D. in a press release by the coalition.

The Sisters of Notre Dame have historically worked to ensure the wellbeing of marginalized groups. One of their chapter directives is to “commit to a congregation-wide focus on women, children and the elderly.”

“It’s very important to be aware of folks on the margins,” Sister Betty Mae said.

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