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Posts Tagged ‘women religious’

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.

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

Ah, Night! Bursting with new-born-stars
Strewing pathways of fire as they soar
In silent pilgrimage through endless space,
And I stand smallened by their hugeness.
And yet within me, deeply rooted, is a light
Already safe at home and never to be dimmed.
– (Rainer Maria Rilke translated by William J. O’Malley)

The stars are lighting up the skies even when we cannot see them clearly. Our God is present in our midst even when we are unconscious of the very real presence of the divine. The divine spark is within each of us even when we focus only on our failures and limitations.

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When I was a postulant, the bulletin board outside our dining room had the following Advent reminder:

“Many saw the star, but only a few had the courage and wisdom to follow the star that led to love!”

Advent is a time for renewing ourselves in seeking and finding and celebrating the light that is Jesus. It is a time to get back in touch with the star that calls us to believe, to follow, to discover the gift that is Jesus living within me. Do I have the courage?

It is a time for pulling away (for a few moments each day, for perhaps an hour or maybe for even a day) to put aside the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas season to concentrate on the star that is beckoning.

Advent is a time to reach into my own soul and find the God who dwells within; the Child who yearns to be born anew in me; the Child who has perhaps been forgotten in the busyness of everyday life; the Child who needs to be tended to, loved, cherished in my heart; the Child who is the Prince of Peace.

Advent is a time of preparation. It is a difficult time if we use it properly. It is not limited to buying gifts, but is discovering anew the gifts within ourselves. It is not limited to decorating trees, but is challenging us anew to prepare (yes, even decorate) our hearts for the rebirth of Jesus in our lives. It is not limited to cleaning our homes for guests, but is calling us to “clean up” and get rid of the clutter in our lives that is preventing us from being a truly Christ-welcoming home. Do I have the courage to follow the star of Advent, the star that leads to love?

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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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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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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 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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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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By Sister Mary Teresita Keliher, SND

We have now journeyed half way through Lent. Today is known as Laetare Sunday- meaning rejoice. We can rejoice that we have successfully made it this far and maybe that the end is coming near. But then again it is also a time to see what we have done for Lent and how we have kept our resolutions with only three weeks to renew them. For Christians it is also a time to reflect on the mystery we will witness at the end of Lent. The days that are high holidays of the Church. We will not celebrate Easter until we have suffered with Jesus through Good Friday. Two weeks ago some 1,800 people attended the Rite of Election at the Los Angeles Cathedral. The Elect are looking to Easter as the time of their Baptism, their entrance into the Church. As we may see Lent coming to an end, the Elect are preparing for a beginning of a new life in the Church.

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The readings today are an insight into God’s great love and generosity. In Chronicles we see the people of Israel after their time of punishment and exile returning to their role as the faithful people of God. They were exiled in a foreign land and longed to return to their home in Jerusalem. God, through the mercy of the Persian king, who was a Gentile, sends them back to their own land with the promise of building a temple. They are certainly filled with a sense of rejoicing!

Paul reminds us of God’s constant love and care for us through his continued gift of grace. Christ is God’s greatest gift to us. All is gift and we are God’s handiwork, to bring the message of God’s love to those we serve.

In the Gospel Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again through a life in Jesus. We contemplate the cross and remember how much God loved us and the world around us. God gave his Son so that we may have eternal life. The cross, an instrument of torture, becomes the sign to all humans that we are saved if we believe. This also requires our commitment, our turning from evil ways to follow the light of Christ. We rejoice at the generosity of God’s love

What keeps us from being the best versions of ourselves? God’s love is all around us, but we need to get in touch with the experience within us that thirsts for God. Our conversion will never be complete if we continue to hold on to our selfish ways. God gave and Jesus gave. What do we need to give to return that love? As we near the final days of Lent, may we rejoice and deepen our commitment to reach out in love to those around us. This is the glory of the cross, the gift that keeps on giving.

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