ND Ministries: Our Living Legacy
By Sister Maria Delaney, SNDdeN, Co-Director for US Office of Sponsored Ministries
Education in all forms and outward expressions will always be at the heart of the Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN). Strengthening our connections and deepening our relationships in the ministries that carry our Notre Dame name are vital priorities to ensure the longevity of our heritage and legacy – a legacy that began in 1804, when St. Julie Billiart and Françoise Blin de Bourdon founded our Congregation.
Educational Administrators from the United States, and from other continents who participated in the Networking for Mission III Conference at Emmanuel College.
This “inheritance” has continued to thrive for over two hundred years as an international tapestry with our own distinctive motif. Everyone who has been a student or colleague, or a relative of a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur in the past 214 years has woven a unique thread to the fabric of this treasure, which proclaims the goodness of God.
The Networking for Mission III conference held at Emmanuel College during the week of July 22, 2018 marked a significant moment for our colleagues in mission. This vibrant event provided the venue for more than 300 people, aged 16 through 90, gathered as students and colleagues from our SNDdeN ministries. More than one hundred SNDdeN from five continents accentuated the depth of our commitment to partner with our lay colleagues to proclaim the values and the teachings that animate all of us as bearers of our legacy. Keynote presentations and workshops sparked their enthusiasm and energy, deepened their Notre Dame connections and challenged us as we move forward together in ministry.
Administrators, teachers and SNDdeN international visitors join the Student Leaders for a photo opportunity at the entrance to Emmanuel College.
Opening and Keynotes
Sister Janet Eisner SNDdeN, President of Emmanuel College, opened the four-day conference with a history of the college on the eve of its 100th Anniversary to be celebrated in 2019. As the oldest Catholic women’s college in New England, Emmanuel towers as a tribute to the perseverance and tenacity of the Sisters who continued to overcome religious and gender bias to be counter-cultural and address existing needs.
Sr. Janet Eisner and Fr. Brian Hehir
Father J. Brian Hehir, the initial keynote speaker, gave a profound analysis of Catholic Identity and how we manifest this identity in today’s multi-pluralistic society. He recognizes that we stand on a growing edge where the world presents new questions to ancient traditions. Father Hehir challenged us to be “penetrating presences,” witnessing to mercy, justice and service in our world and preparing people to move forward with intelligence and compassion in addressing the emerging questions of our times.
Father Hehir’s address was complemented by that of Sister Mary Johnson SNDdeN, who gave the keynote address on the second day of the conference. Sister Mary framed the address around the theme of Catholic Social Teaching – No Longer a Secret, which captured the concept of “the collective effervescence of the Charism” – the special gift given to each group within the Church to contribute to the common good.
Sister Mary shared two examples of sharing our SNDdeN charism:
- The Hallmarks of a Notre Dame Learning Community, used in so many SNDdeN ministries, “which concretize(s) our witness to the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching” and
- Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si which is reflected in the Chapter Calls of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to care for “our common home.”
Sister Simone Campbell, SSA, the “Nun on the Bus” continued the challenge to participants as she opened the third day of the conference with a keynote address based on the Call to Public Holiness in Chaotic Times. Sister Simone brought the participants full circle as she urged them to touch hearts, listen to stories, feel one another’s pain and then respond in a compassionate manner.
Thirty workshops augmented these keynote addresses with presentations on our Notre Dame de Namur Heritage, The Hallmarks of a Notre Dame Learning Community, governance, technology/social media, curriculum and instructional practice, ethics in healthcare, life transitions, multi-cultural responsiveness, racism and nonviolent conflict resolution and global citizenship.
All keynote addresses with several other talks and the power points from the thirty workshops are available on www.notredameonline.org
Prior to the Networking Conference, seventy students from ten Notre Dame de Namur high schools in the US assembled for the third annual student leadership conference. Notre Dame de Namur Academies from Hingham, Tyngsboro, Worcester, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School (Massachusetts), Mount Notre Dame, The Summit, Chaminade Julienne and Stephen Badin HS (Ohio), Maryvale Prep (Maryland) and Notre Dame High School (San Jose, California) were well represented.
The students participated in three days of workshops on St. Julie, leadership, Catholic social teaching. They completed their conference by joining in the opening sessions and liturgy of the Networking Conference. The presence of the students at the Mass celebrated the continuation of our legacy into the future.
Our sponsored ministries are treasures that extend the Notre Dame de Namur tapestry by sharing and animating God’s goodness with people all over the world. As they weave new threads into the fabric, they expand the living legacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In the encyclical, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis exhorts each of us to “see the entirety of your life as a mission.” We are very blessed by our colleagues who partner with us to broaden the outreach of our mission to the ends of the earth.