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Vision & Challenge is published tri-annually by the Office of Mission Advancement for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California. This issue highlights some exciting new ministries of the sisters, including Sister Jennifer Marie Zimmerman’s position at Christus Ministries. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send an email to cvieira@sndca.org.

Click here to read the online version.

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The Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame came into being in Coesfeld, Germany in 1850. In 1849, two young teachers, Hilligonde Wolbring and Elisabeth Kühling, befriended orphaned and neglected children and took them into Hilligonde’s home where they educated and cared for them. Both young women had been educated in the spiritual and pedagogical tradition of Reverend Bernard Overberg.

Their spiritual director, Reverend Theodor Elting, invited them to consider religious life. Three Sisters of Notre Dame of Amersfoort, in the Netherlands, came to Coesfeld in 1850 to give these two women preparatory training for religious life. The Amersfoort congregation had received their spirit and rule from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, founded in France by Julie Billiart in 1804.

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Hilligonde became Sister Maria Aloysia, and Elisabeth, Sister Maria Ignatia. October 1 is considered Foundation Day because it was the first day that the Sisters of Notre Dame were in Coesfeld, Germany. Today the Sisters of Notre Dame, a Marian family of women religious, serve the Church throughout the world in education and other ministries. Together with their lay collaborators, they continue to be bearers of hope and joy, witnessing to God’s goodness and provident care.

Schools across the county with roots to the Sisters of Notre Dame are encouraged to celebrate Foundation Day and the rich heritage of the sisters. One year, Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, Ohio, celebrated Foundation Day by inviting some of the Sisters of Notre Dame to have lunch with the students and teachers. “Sharing a sandwich” with one of the sisters was a wonderful way to build a connection between the student body and the heritage of the sisters in a casual setting.

Acting in the spirit of St. Julie Billiart who proclaimed, “You are not asked to do all the good in the world, just that bit which lies within your power,” Notre Dame Academy in West Los Angeles initiated Women Helping Women. Each graduating class has the honor of leaving behind a $1,000 student scholarship for an incoming freshman who needs financial assistance to attend NDA. Earning their own money by doing an extra family chores, each student is asked to bring in a modest donation to help another young girl realize her dream of attending NDA. Money is collected on Foundation Day.

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Next week we will host our annual donor appreciation brunch and open house at Notre Dame Center in Thousand Oaks, California. In the spirit of thanksgiving, Sister Mary Colette Theobald, who is currently serving in Uganda, wrote a letter of appreciation to our many spiritual and monetary supporters. Uganda 081

Dearest Benefactors,

I want to personally thank you for all the support you give to the Sisters of Notre Dame. I very personally see your spiritual and monetary contributions at work in the Uganda mission. The Sisters of Notre Dame have been in Uganda for 20 years.  The primary school began in 1998, formation for young sisters in 2002, the secondary school in 2003, nursery school in 2007 and a second community in 2009. Construction for a new nursery school for Buseesa has started. There are 12 Ugandan Sisters. Ten more are in the novitiate in Tanzania. Hundreds of young people have benefited from a strong Notre Dame education. Those who have completed their studies are beginning to return to their villages to uplift the standard of living of the people there. None of this would have been possible without you! Thank you, thank you! Webale muno! God bless you! Ruhanga asiimwe.

Thank you, too, for all the other ways you help and support the Sisters of Notre Dame: ministry projects, housing support and renovation, and support for our wonderful aged sisters who gave so much to serve God and His people. May God bless each and every one of you with all the graces and blessings you need at this time.

Please be assured of many prayers for yourself and your families from all of us in Uganda!

Lovingly and gratefully yours,

Sister Mary Colette, SND
Mpala, Uganda

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Inspiring Catholic school educators with the charism of the Sisters of Notre Dame is one of Sister Marie Paul Grech’s top priorities. Put simply, that charism (or what the sisters believe) is that God is good and provides for us. They strive to look at the world with hope; and what could be more important in a classroom than a positive attitude?

Sister Marie Paul loves this part of her ministry. Her love for teachers and her respect for the role they play in the lives of their students shows in her dedication to faculty and staff retreats.

“These men and women who give of themselves so generously to touch the hearts of the young are always an inspiration to me. It’s a real joy to continue spreading our Notre Dame charism and spirit,” Sister said.

She taught secondary school for more than 30 years in Ventura and LA counties, as well as in the sisters’ mission in Uganda, Africa. Armed with her faith and a lifetime of experience as a sister, Sister Marie Paul shows others how to infuse their classrooms with joy and compassion.

“Teachers continue our mission in our sponsored and affiliate schools where we are no longer physically present. God’s call to teachers in every Catholic school is vibrant and it is my joy to be part of their ongoing response to that call,” she said.

Sister recently led a retreat for 20 teachers from Saint Jude the Apostle School in Westlake, Calif. The retreat began with a morning Mass and breakfast, followed by small group discussions and a video presentation.DSC_0455

“Your job” Sister Marie Paul told the group “is to help children connect the dots- between science and religion, between what they learn on the playground and in the classroom. Your job is to teach them how to learn.”

Deana Herrera (pictured at right in the photo below) has taught at Saint Jude the Apostle School for seven years. She was motivated to apply Sister Marie Paul’s lessons in her fourth-grade classroom.

“Her positive spirit reminds us to see the good in our everyday lives,” Herrera said. “Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, one of my students will say something really funny. Those moments are God saying ‘Lighten up!’”DSC_0470

Sister Marie Paul is the coordinator of Kindred Hearts Ministries (KHM). KHM offers prayer programs, spiritual events, retreats and many other services for local parishioners provided by the Sisters of Notre Dame. To learn more about KHM, visit www.sndca.org/khm or email Sister Marie Paul at mgrech@sndca.org. Click here for the KHM calendar of events.

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“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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Over 100 guests came out for Sister Mary Kathleen’s talk on “Your Prayer Toolbox” last week at Theology on Tap. Did you miss out? Check out the clip below!

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Sister Antoinette Marie Moon is known for having energy to spare. She can be found bustling around Notre Dame Center preparing for guests or tending to the needs of her sisters at all hours of the day. Listen as she pauses to reflect on her 50 years of ministry as a Sister of Notre Dame.

On growing up around sisters:

On her family’s reaction to her decision to join the convent:

On Jubilee as a kind of “wedding anniversary”:

On serving as an Adoration Sister in Rome, Italy:

On working as a missionary in Uganda, Africa:

On the Year of Consecrated Life:

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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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Sister Mary Kathleen Burns will help launch the summer season of Theology on Tap (TOT) with her talk tomorrow evening on “Building Your Prayer Tool Box.”

“Theology on Tap is meant to reach young people on the margins, to make them feel comfortable in a relaxed setting with a bit of theology thrown in,” Sister Mary Kathleen said.

The information below is excerpted from the official website of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

TOT is open to all young adults, ages 18 to 39, singles and couples, regardless of religious affiliation, who want to explore the role of faith in their daily lives. Created in 1981, TOT is a nationally recognized speaker and fellowship program that has brought young adults to the church for more than 30 years. In this casual atmosphere, you’ll hear straight talk and honest answers to your deepest questions about faith, love, work and other real life experiences. TOT provides an opportunity to learn about the Catholic faith, meet like-minded people and make new friends.

Details regarding Sister Mary Kathleen’s talk are below. Check out the Archdiocese of Los Angeles website for a full list of TOT’s happening this summer. You can also subscribe to TOT’s newsletter or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

July 9: Theology on Tap @ St. Cornelius, Long Beach

5500 E. Wardlow Rod., Long Beach, 90808
Doors open at 7pm; program starts at 7:30pm

Sr. Kathleen Burns, SND: Building your Prayer Tool Box

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Sister Mary Bernadette Pendola entered the convent when she was just 18 years old. On July 11 she will celebrate her 50th year as a Sister of Notre Dame. Listen below as Sister talks about her joyful first years in the convent, her travels abroad and the lessons she’s learned from life.

On her kindergarten teacher, who inspired her to consider becoming a sister:

On her family’s reaction to her vocation:

On choosing her name:

On feeling excited to be a sister:

On her call to be a missionary nurse in Uganda, Africa:

On her pilgrimage to Lourdes, France and her struggle to accept her Parkinson’s diagnosis:

On the meaning of Jubilee:

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