HERITAGE CENTRE Welcomes Visitors to Namur, Belgium
On June 10, 2012, Mgr Rémi Vancottem, Bishop of Namur, blessed and dedicated the new Heritage Centre at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Namur! At this opening, the Sisters welcomed lay and religious visitors from Europe and beyond. Sr. Marie Kelly, Coordinator, working for three years with the General Archivist, Marie Felten, and with a committee of Sisters from different parts of the Notre Dame world, engaged an architect, David Lucaccioni, to assist in designing this heritage and spirituality centre.
The entrance and front foyer of the convent on rue Julie Billiart, displays six huge banners, symbolizing the international Congregation and depicting in colorful images, the five continents on which Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDs) minister. In this space, unique table settings, created by Sisters throughout the Congregation, represent the co-foundresses, St. Julie Billiart and Françoise Blin de Bourdon, as well as other Sisters known throughout the Notre Dame world.
The former chapel of the Sisters has been transformed into the Heritage Centre. On entering the Centre, one experiences a thrilling moment of awe and silence at the marvel displayed in this holy place. A high and long black wall, inscribed in white lettering with more than 12,000 names of past and present SND’s, becomes immediately evident.
The Centre comprises four themes: the life of Julie and Françoise and the beginnings of the Congregation, its expansion on five continents, the Mission and ministries of the Sisters and the Spirituality of Julie. On large panels, a creative and dynamic exposition masterfully interweaves information and emotion into the story of the religious congregation. The altar, the reliquary of Mère Julie Billiart, the remains of Mère St. Joseph Blin de Bourdon and Mère Ignace Goethals, formerly in the St. Julie Garden Chapel, are now located in the sanctuary and the sacristy of the Heritage Centre. The “châsse”, or reliquary of Mère Julie, has a prominent place in the center of the sanctuary. The entire Centre is itself a sanctuary to the glory of God and the work that God has accomplished through holy women who have founded the Congregation and served the Church and our world as Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur! Come and see!
If you are unable to visit the Heritage Centre in person, the Sisters in Namur invite you, our Sisters, Associates and friends to visit and follow its progress on our Web site: www.SNDdeNHeritageCentre.org/Museum.