PRAISE AND THANKS
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur internationally praise and thank Sisters Margaret Walsh and Honorine Yamba who have been serving the Congregation for the past three years as Co-Coordinators of the Heritage Centre. During this time, many people have rejoiced in the richness and beauty of this Centre in Namur. Some visitors have followed in the footsteps of our cofoundresses in retreats and pilgrimages through Belgium and France.
Sisters Honorine and Margaret reflect on some experiences in this congregational ministry.
Since December 2015, Sisters Honorine and Margaret have shared in organising and leading local and international Heritage Centre events for more than 2,000 people from the area and from around the world. Some have come for short visits; others have participated in pilgrimages, retreats and conferences. Staff, students and former students have come from Notre Dame schools in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Congo, USA, Japan and South Africa. Associates and friends of Notre Dame have come from all over the world. Sisters of Notre Dame, Coesfeld and Amersfoort have also been regular visitors.
Sr. Honorine welcomes her former students from Lemfu.
I arrived in the Heritage Centre in 2012. My experience here has been very fulfilling. When I first arrived, I was very conscious of the responsibility of taking care of the relics of our ancestors, Julie, Françoise and Mère Ignace as well as all the Sisters who preceded us. The Heritage Centre is a place where we all experience belonging to the great family that we are in Notre Dame. Julie always gathered her friends.
During my years here I have met many friends. One of my greatest joys was the recent visit of 17 of my former students from our Notre Dame school in Lemfu, Congo. They gathered in the Heritage Centre for a weekend in July this year. They all now live in different parts of the world including Belgium, France, England and Canada. Some were accompanied by their husbands and children. They shared memories of their Notre Dame education and expressed gratitude for a gift that has influenced their entire lives. On Saturday evening we shared a beautiful celebration, eating Congolese food and dancing in the Heritage Centre garden. On Sunday morning our community Mass was very lively.
I arrived at the Heritage Centre in 2015. Sr. Honorine and I began a different style of working together which sometimes stretched across the sea between Belgium and Britain. Continuing to live in Liverpool, I was enabled to develop contact between our ministries in Britain and the Heritage Centre. I have loved having the opportunity to introduce the Heritage Centre to students and staff from schools in Britain and from Liverpool Hope University. While the Heritage Centre contains many souvenirs, artifacts and stories from the past, for me, the most important gift centers on ministries portrayed there, which represent a Living Heritage, rooted in the past, while looking towards the future.
My greatest joy has been to see students appreciate in their own lives today the relevance of the lives and work of Julie and Françoise, particularly related to their genuine friendship. Members of 1804 Societies have been inspired by their visits and their commitment has taken on a deeper meaning at a very important time when they are making decisions about their own futures. Two students from Hope University wrote this year their final degree dissertations, inspired by their visits to the Heritage Centre.
Sr. Margaret welcomes students from St. Julie’s School in Liverpool.
A theology student wrote about Biblical influence on the teaching of Julie contained in her letters. A history student researched the political background which led to Françoise taking on Dutch nationality. We are grateful for the privilege of serving in our Heritage Centre. We, Honorine and Margaret, pray that many Sisters, especially our newer members, Co-workers, Associates, current and former students and friends will receive a continuing welcome and find inspiration in visits to the Centre and to the holy places of our founding mothers in Belgium and France.
We welcome with special joy Sister Christiane Houet, SNDdeN to the Heritage Centre!
Source: Notre Dame International, September 2018, Volume 4, Number 2