Welcoming New Associates to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, CA
The Sisters and Associates of Notre Dame de Namur welcomed six women at the Celebration of Commitment ceremony held at the Belmont, CA, Province Center on March 11, 2018. Cari Alexander, Mary Chan, Laura Leon, Karen Rende, LaVerne Vitale, and Partner in Mission – Patti Andrews each were graciously introduced by their Companion On their Journey, and then each gave a few words defining their reasons for choosing to be an integral part of Notre Dame. These women of courage spoke so generously from their hearts that it gave us all pause to remember the joy of being on this spiritual journey together with the Sisters of Notre Dame.
We weredeeply grateful to Associates Shyrl McCormick and Joanne Rossi for leading our new Associates towards their initial commitment. It was a growing experience for new and old, sisters and Associates, who participated in the Saturday sessions planned for the women seeking to become part of the Notre Dame Family. The leaders provided sessions that would be unique and enriching for the candidates andfor Sisters and Associates who joined them to share in praying together, relationship building, and getting to know the community of SND’s and Associates. This bonding effort helped to create the experience of community through prayer, sharing, and support.
Monthly an invitation was sent to Sisters and Associates saying, “We are hoping you will be able to participate in some of the Saturday gatherings while the candidates will be discerning and preparing for their commitment. Even if you don’t have a formal role, you will be acquainting our candidates with the community to which they belong. Come be with us and enhance our experience of prayer, story-telling, learning, support and inspiration.” Throughout the sessions it was apparent that a truly significant contribution to the process came from Sisters who joined in the sessions and shared their stories, remembrances and reflections. All these things came up spontaneously out of the conversations while inspiring knowledge and understanding.
Shyrl and Joanne invited Sisters and Associates to plan monthly Saturday sessions with themes including: Sisters of Notre Dame – Founded on Friendship; Spirituality and Prayer; Sisters and Associates Partnering in Mission; Discerning Association as a Way of Life;Peace and Justice; and finally, the Commitment Retreat. The Candidates were welcomed to all events the sisters and Associates have had throughout the year. One of our sisters, Sr. Kay McMullen, prepared and led the prayer experiences for all of the sessions before she became seriously ill. These rich and spiritually alive presentations concluded with the Associate Commitment Ceremony and Celebration in March.
Together all Sisters and Associates present this March day recommitted themselves to the mission and charism of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur established by Saint Julie Billiart and her dear friend, Francoise Blin, in 1804. The Call of Notre Dame Associates draws ‘women and men, living their baptismal call in the spirit of St. Julie Billiart. They have experienced a strong attraction to Saint Julie, who proclaimed God’s goodness throughout her entire life. Based on their desire to grow in Notre Dame spirituality and mission, these women and men have a special relationship to the SNDs,” stated on the SNDdeN website – www.sndden.org. These women have personified the gift of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur that the “Good God is so very good” (Saint Julie Billiart)!
Kathy Noether, Associate SNDdeN, BACAR Co-Director
As a concluding exercise for the 2017 – October BACAR Conference, participants were asked to write a letter to their Congregational Leadership regarding possible steps to take in framing the future of Association and Religious life. Here are some of the results of that exercise.
2. Our hope for the future is that we become united.
3. We all share the same charism and mission.
4. And our desire is that we bring a new way of living out this charism.
5. We suggest the means to accomplish this might be to have
- Combined Planning Meetings
- Shared prayer opportunities
- Shared gatherings, celebrations and ministry opportunities
We hope to live out this new way in a spirit of hopefulness, solidarity and tenderness.
RSCJ Associates: At the Spirituality forum last summer, we saw a vision of what the future can (and should?) be for the Sacred Heart family. There were 350 people there, fairly evenly divided among religious, Associates, RSCJ educators, and “others,” including students from Network schools. How do we strengthen and widen the sense of community that was created that weekend? How do we enable the different groups to see that they are included, and they are equal parts of the family? What are the needs of these different groups? What are the steps that we need to take to keep alive what happened in St. Louis this summer? One need is to attract younger people. How do we do so? One suggestion is that we approach parents of students, perhaps with a “Come and See” for parents. Another area to explore is whether we need to widen the doors of the Associate tent, and invite people to join us even if they can’t come to a monthly meeting. Particularly now, with the electronic technology that is available to us, we can widen our communication channels—through Zoom programs, e-mails, copies of meeting minutes, annual retreats, etc. Busy people aren’t able to come to monthly meetings, but might still want to share in living the charism of the Society as an Associate. RSCJs, as a teaching order, have a huge base of alumnae/i, and we really haven’t reached out to this group. Another group is teachers in Network schools, many of whom have joined Associate groups but then drop out because of their busy schedules, or parenthood duties. Finally, should we do more to proselytize among women who are former members of the congregation? So what do we want to say to the provincial team? Perhaps a start would be to ask them what solidarity between Associates and religious would look like to them. Perhaps we need to ask them to make more opportunities for us to get together and interact, to be listened to as well as to listen. Let’s ask them how Associates can be more involved in the life of the society. Can they help us to work on improving a sense of community between Associates and religious and to improve opportunities for interaction between Associates and religious? Our hope for the future is to build solidarity and a stronger sense of community.