Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!
Everyone should see how unselfish you are. The Lord is near.
Dismiss all anxiety from your minds.
Present your needs to God
in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.
Then God's own peace, which is beyond all understanding,
will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7
Evening Prayer II ~ First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Liturgical Year (written on the first Sunday of Advent)!
Happy Gaudete Sunday (written today)!!

Since this is the beginning of the new liturgical year and a time of preparation, joy, hope and expectation, I thought it would be a good idea to return to the blogosphere... It's been a while, you know.

In the daily goings on of life I often think, "Well, there's nothing, really, for me to write on the blog." Other days I think, "Wow. There's so much, I hardly know where to start!" So, in effort to be somewhat brief, let me take you through the past 2 months and a few reflections...

On October 24 a very good friend of mine professed his final vows as a Marianist brother. The celebration happened down in San Antonio. It was a marvelous celebration. Bro. Dennis is from Hawai'i. Therefore, the entire weekend had a certain cultural element to it that added another wonderful dimension. On Friday evening there was a gathering of Marianists and Dennis' family at the community's home. Saturday I had the opportunity to reconnect with people who have played a significant role in my own discernment journey.

Saturday afternoon was the actual Mass of Perpetual Profession. If you've never been to one, I encourage you to go. What a moving Mass. The provincial of the Marianists US Province, Bro. Steven Glodek, gave a reflection after the gospel about the vows. It was really very moving. It brought tears to my eyes. With each vow he spoke of the sacrifices and the gifts entailed and then he ended each reflection with, "and Dennis vows this today for life." Wow. It definitely caused me to stop and reflect on the meaning of the vows for my own life.

That evening all the young Marianists went out to celebrate and catch up. That was good connecting time as well.

On Sunday afternoon I spend some time sharing with Bro. Dennis and Bro. Brandon. We talked for over 5 hours while sharing good food and ice cream. That's our typical thing. We talked about community life, vowed life, the future of religious life, our own struggles to live authentically etc. It was a Spirit-inspired conversation, for sure.

Then it was back to Dayton ...

The following weekend I attended a workshop for people who seek to serve as spiritual accompaniment for Lay Marianist Communities. Let me explain. There are small communities of faith in the Marianist charism all over the world. Here in the US many of them are composed of young adults, but there are others that have been communities since the 1960s. Each community traditionally has someone who acts as a spiritual director or guide. This person can be either lay or vowed, however all the ones with whom I am familiar are vowed Marianists.

I've been a spiritual companion for a Marianist lay community who professed their commitment a little over 6 months ago. They are mostly college students or recent graduates. Living community life while transitioning out of college and into volunteer work or career has not been easy. The workshop that day helped me to understand my role with the community as well as how I might be helpful to them in their transitions and growth as lay Marianists.

Needless to say, that day gave me a lot to pray about. It's been a while since I was a member of a lay Marianist community, so it was good to connect back to that experience and reflect on how my experiences since then might be helpful to this new community. The community, called the Bridges Community, will have their first retreat Dec. 19-21. I will join them for at least part of it. Please pray for them as they grow in their Marianist identity (as a group and as individuals).

Immediately following this, during the first week of November, I had a very cool and humbling opportunity. One of our Marianist priests, Fr. Chris Wittmann, and I were keynote speakers at a vocations dinner at UD. The title of our presentation was "Poor, Celibate, Obedient... and Stable?" It was a chance to engage students in conversation about the vowed life and how Marianists live it each day. We invited some vowed Marianists as well as any student who was interested. We had a total of 60 people in attendance - about 30 students and about 30 Marianists. The students were a good mix of male and female (maybe 16 and 14?). The night went very well. Students seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say and there were good small group conversations.

Needless to say, preparing for and then following through with this night was an excellent time of reflection for me. To have the chance to consider the vows, how I/we live them and what that might mean for someone who is considering religious life was a true gift.

The week following that, it was off to New York for Marianist formation weekend. This is an annual gathering (in different places in the country) for Marianists in formation - both SM and FMI. We gathered in Long Island where the Marianist Province of Meribah has two high schools (Kellenberg and Chaminade). What a weekend! Our presenter for the weekend was Sr. Maria Cimperman, OSU. She is a professor of theology at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. Our topic for the weekend was Religious Life in the Future: a conversation with those who create the future (I believe that's right).

Over the weekend those of us in formation had the chance to share openly about the gifts and challenges of the past year, our hopes/dreams/fears about the future and how we see ourselves (individually and communally) growing in the next several years. I can not put into words how valuable an experience that was. It was truly a gift.

Sr. Laura and I stayed an extra day after everything to explore New York. I had never been there, so there was a lot that I wanted to see. We walked around Manhattan for hours! It was great. I got a chance to take in some great sights, have good conversation, and sample some great delis. Time well spent!

Two weeks later, the weekend after Thanksgiving, we had a gathering for some of our younger FMIs and our contact (someone who is seriously considering becoming a Marianist Sister). We spent the weekend at the guest house of a Benedictine Community right on the Ohio River outside of Cincinnati. That was a nice weekend. We prayed and shared together. We went hiking in a state park. We went out for ice cream. We spent a lot of time talking about where we are with God and with our ministries and where we see ourselves going in the future. The weekend was very good. There were 6 of us total. Two of our sisters from San Antonio flew up for the gathering. It was a weekend to treasure.

Lastly, yesterday another community of lay Marianists professed their commitment with a Mass celebrating Gaudete Sunday. It was a beautiful Mass as we welcomed 9 new members to the Marianist family.

That's what I've been up to since October! So much for being brief! That's what happens when I don't write for 6 weeks... I really must keep up...

These weeks have been busy and full. However, what beautiful opportunities to reflect and pray about being a Marianist religious at the dawn of a new decade ~ very powerful, indeed!

I pray that those of you who read this blog are having a joy-filled Advent season as we prepare for the great feast of Christmas. Thank you all for your patience with my absence.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
Luke 11:17b-18a

Where does the time go, exactly? I can't believe it's nearly been a month since I posted something! It's OCTOBER! Hard to believe. I wish I could be a little more disciplined in this...

The past month has been great - with lots going on at UD and otherwise. We had our first retreat for first year students. Myself and 2 graduate students worked with a team of 11 sophomores to put on the retreat for what ended up being 36 first years. It was a good weekend. The sophomores did a great job! It was also fun to work with them. I enjoy helping young people develop the skills to do ministry. I spent most of the weekend cooking and just having casual conversations with people. The students on the retreat were a lot of fun to be around!

Last weekend I went to a conference in Chicago put on by Catholics on Call. It was great, really. If you've never heard of Catholics on Call click the link to check out their website. After the conference I stopped to visit my sister and her family in Indianapolis. It's a happy coincidence that I have to drive through Indy to get to and from Chicago from here.

Next weekend I'm off to San Antonio! Woo Hoo! It's time to start working on Marianist LIFE South 2010! That's hard to believe. We have our first planning meeting next weekend. This coming summer will be my last summer to serve as a part of the coordinating team for the LIFE program. It's been part of my ministry life since 2001. It's been an important part of my formation as a Marianist and as a minister in the Church. I'm looking forward to this summer's program, but it'll be odd once it's over.

Ministry in our residence hall is up and running and keeping me busy! We have a spiritual program once a week - Wednesdays at 8:30. That's been good. We also have faith sharing on Thursdays at 7pm with Mass following at 9pm. Tuesdays our residence hall staff has our staff meetings at 9pm. In addition to the residence hall ministry, I meet with the discernment group every other Monday at 9:15pm. And one Tuesday a month at 7:30 we have a catechetical program on campus called "Hungry Hearts." I work with the leadership team of students to make those events happen. Needless to say... it's going to be a full year!

In the midst of all the busyness, though, I have carved out for myself some time for reflection. That brings me to the quote above from Luke's Gospel...

I'm not sure if they do this anymore, but NPR used to have this series called "This I Believe." People would write essays about their core belief systems and their values and then have the opportunity to read them on the radio if they were chosen. I would listen to them when I had the chance. Some of them were very interesting... some moving... some shallow... I would think to myself, "Why don't I write one?" Of course, it never happened.

I've been thinking a lot lately about division and the need for reconciliation of opposing groups of people. Why? Because of conversations I over-hear, articles I read in the local newspaper or news sources on line, and what different people say to me about their concerns. Taking all this in, I've been reflecting on and praying about healing. What does that have to do with "This I Believe"? Well... this is what I believe...
  • That "loving one's neighbor as oneself" is not something we can "opt out of" and has very real and practical implications.
  • That it's okay and good to disagree with someone's opinion. However, there is a such thing as civil debate and respectful argument.
  • Being able to listen, truly listen, to someone is a virtue.
  • Being able to work together in finding solutions to societal problems is imperative to the health of our nation.
  • All life is sacred - babies in utero, people in prisons, the poor, the rich, people in other countries, our enemies - and all have dignity.
  • I believe in "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" - the operative word for me is "one." There is room in our Church for difference in worship styles and political beliefs. Because someone disagrees with another about politics or style of worship doesn't make one "less Catholic" than the other.
  • It is awfully difficult to love your enemies if you're plotting to kill them (physically or otherwise).
  • The virtues of respect for others, kindness, compassion, and humility are key in any and all communities.
  • We are not God. God is God.
  • Peace is possible.
  • Hate begets hate - violence begets violence.
I could go on and on, really. But I'll stop there with the list. I'm reminded now of John Lennon... "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us and the world will live as one." Pray for peace & reconciliation - in our world, in our country, and in our Church.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

To the true servant of God,
every place is the right place and every time is the right time.
St. Catherine of Siena

Almost a month to the day since my last post. Needless to say, life's been pretty full since moving back to Dayton last month.

Classes at UD are now back in session - and have been for almost 2 weeks - and activities, events, meetings etc. are in full swing. As most of you know, I am entering my 2nd year at UD as a campus minister. I learned A LOT last year... about balance, about myself, about ministry with college students at a Catholic university... It seems now, I am learning how to put what I've learned to some practical use.

Although I haven't posted in a month and I haven't made a lot of phone calls to friends and family back in Texas in a while, I'm finding that the beginning of this school year is a lot less stressful than last. There are transitions to make and readjusting to the nature of campus ministry, but nothing like last year. It makes a world of difference to be back for a 2nd year.

This is true in ministry, as I'm sure anyone could guess. However, it is equally true of formation and community life. I'm in the midst of my 2nd year of temporary profession... and another year of being a professed member of the Dayton community. And while one might think that it doesn't make that much of a difference, I beg to differ! I'm still new to professed life, no doubt, and there are still ways in which I need to grow and develop as a religious sister, but there's a sense of stability to this year that comes from wisdom gained the year before. It's difficult to put into words. It seems that I'm more familiar with what it means to be and to live from the context of a professed religious. And while I'm not "studying" religious life in the same way I did during novitiate (I wish I had time for all that reading!) my studying now comes in the form of the living of the day-to-day realities (challenges, joys, insights and decisions) of community life and our congregation.

You may be wondering why I quoted St. Catherine of Siena at the beginning of this post. A part from the fact that she's my Confirmation patroness and a role model of mine, this quote in particular struck a chord in me this past weekend. Labor Day weekend our community spent time together at the brothers' retreat house on Indian Lake. It was a BEAUTIFUL weekend - both physically outside, but also in terms of relationships and sharing. It was our weekend of planning meetings, but it was also a retreat for us with significant times of private, quite prayer and times of playfulness together. This quote, which appears in my Living with Christ misselette for Saturday Sept. 5, echoed a shift in attitude I experienced this summer that became more clear to me over the weekend.

As I enter more fully into this new academic year, with all of its stressors and challenges, joys and times of peace, I am more at ease with my place here at UD and in Dayton in general. As someone who seeks to serve God, where I am and my own sense of "good timing" need to take a back seat. For wherever it is that God has called me, that is the right place. And God's timing is more perfect than my own. May we all grow in that understanding!

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!
1 Kings 19:7b

Where to begin?! The last time I posted I had just returned from my annual retreat... By the way, thanks to all those who recommended different combination sunscreen/bug repellents! I'll have to check those out...

Now, I have just returned to Dayton. Well, a few days ago. Marianist LIFE South 2009 ended on Tuesday August 4. We had another fantastic year with wonderful students from Central Catholic High School (San Antonio), St. Matthew Parish (San Antonio), Antonian High School (San Antonio), St. Joseph High School (Victoria, TX), Christopher Columbus High School (Miami), Chaminade-Madonna High School (Hollywood, FL), and Nerinx Hall High School (St. Louis). We had a smaller group this year (61 students), but that's not necessarily a bad thing... especially the day that we had a tremendous rain storm and had to keep everyone in the cafe for a few hours...

On Wednesday Aug 5 the team met all day to do our evaluations of the summer program. Those meetings went very well. We got good feedback from the moderators and students and found many ways in which we can improve for next summer.

Next summer is my last year to work with LIFE as a part of the team. I've been involved with LIFE since 2001. It's hard to believe my time is so quickly coming to a close! We've named my successor as coordinator, however I don't want to post that name here because only the team knows at the moment. I'm excited about the future of LIFE, but I'm sure it'll be difficult to walk away.

On Thursday afternoon I left San Antonio and returned to Dayton. Friday I was back at work and currently I'm enjoying a weekend of not doing much of anything. :) It's nice to have those every once in a while, yes? That brings me to my reflection on the above quote...

The summer before I entered novitiate (2006) I made a week-long retreat with the 2 Marianist brothers who were also entering novitiate in the fall. On the Sunday of our retreat, the first reading was 1 Kings 19:4-8. The quote that stood out to me that entire week of retreat was the quote above, "Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!"

Today, the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the 1st reading is once again 1 Kings 19:4-8. And I think this quote is highly appropriate for where I am these days. ... I'm about to embark on what will be another very busy academic year. Chances are I won't be taking a class this semester (because nothing I need is being offered), but it'll still be packed with UD obligations, travel, retreats, programs, formation gatherings, committee meetings, Marianist celebrations, community "stuff" etc. It will be important for me to stop every once in a while... take a day of reflection once a month or so... just breathe... or else the journey will be too long!

"Get up and eat"... the Psalm for today is Ps. 34 where we proclaim that one should "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord"... and in the Gospel Jesus reminds us that he is the "bread of life." And so... eat - taste - see... indeed, savor... Jesus who gives life. I need not get wrapped up in worry (for who by worrying can add a single day to one's life-span?) or in the busyness of life. Take a breath and pray. Else the journey will be too long!

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Friday, July 17, 2009

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is,
than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.
Pedro Arrupe, SJ

What a phenomenal few weeks it's been! Just to catch you up on where I am these days and what I'm up to...

Currently, I am back in the Beaumont/Orange area of Texas visiting friends and family. I left San Antonio the day after my class was over (Principles of Theological Method). First I stopped over night in College Station. This is where I went to college & also where I worked for 3 years post graduation. I caught up with many friends while there. Of course, not everyone I would have liked, but that's impossible, I think.

When I left College Station, I drove home to Orange. That's where my dad still lives... in house he's lived in since the 1950s. I hadn't been home since Hurricane Ike hit southeast Texas. There was quite a bit of damage, but most of it has been cleaned up and rebuilt. My dad is still working on the house... getting a new ceiling put in since the hurricane tore off part of his roof. Other than that, though, he is doing well as are my friends here in the area.

Then... it was off to my annual retreat. This year I went to the Jesuit Spirituality Center at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Perfect. Really, the retreat was exactly what my heart, soul, relationship with self and God needed. I won't go into everything here (I'm still unpacking a lot). However... I do have some insights to share. Please note... some of them are serious and others not so much, but all of them are honest insights that occurred to me while on retreat:
  • God desires intimacy with us - desires our love in all its forms. Truly meditated upon, that is very strong language...
  • Silence is good - solitude is better. They are not synonymous.
  • It would save a lot of time each day if someone would invent/create a dual purpose sunscreen/bug repellent - they could call it sun repellent or bug screen...
  • Falling in love with the person of Jesus is the beginning of joy and wisdom.
  • No matter how good it sounds in your mind, never go bike riding on a summer evening in Southern Louisiana after an afternoon rain... although, it does give one a new appreciation for a cold shower...
  • We were created in love, by Love, for love. Love is the most natural, inherent quality of being human. Sometimes it gets buried under junk, though.
  • Tchaikovsky and Chopin were geniuses.
  • If you feel like dancing - and you're able - for crying out loud, DANCE! God delights in our joy!
  • Each morning on retreat I would take an hour long walk. On these walks I often asked 5 women of the New Testament to walk with me - Mary of Nazareth, Elizabeth, Mary of Magdala, and the sisters Martha and Mary of Bethany. Each day I would chat with them (silently, of course!) about faith, intimacy with Jesus, prayer and taking risks. It is a practice I highly recommend...
  • Grace comes in unexpected places... pay attention!
  • If you're awake when the sun is rising, take some time to watch. Few things are as beautiful - and few things awaken the soul quite so well.
  • St. Cunegunda isn't a made up person... who knew?
  • Apples stain clothing. Biting into a juicy apple wearing your favorite off-white t-shirt is probably not a good idea.
  • After not typing for several days, it's difficult to do it well... but my handwriting has never looked better!

My retreat ended on Wednesday July 15. When I left I visited cousins about 10 minutes down the road from Grand Coteau and headed back to Orange. On Saturday (tomorrow) I start my way back to San Antonio - via Houston to visit my niece & her family and some good friends that live there.

Tuesday of next week starts Marianist LIFE South 2009 meetings & program. Then, it's back to Dayton! Where is summer going?? Well, regardless of its speed, it's been a pretty amazing summer.

I'll leave you this morning with the rest of the Pedro Arrupe quote:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart
Kahill Gibran

Today, I'm going to depart from my typical topics for reflection and hone in on something seemingly superficial... keeping in mind that things are not always what they seem.

When I entered religious life I knew that some of my assumptions, ways of living, and world-view would be challenged. I knew that my ideas about life would stretch and grow and be reshaped. What I didn't anticipate is a call to reflect on (of all things) my hair!

This will take some explanation...

For as far back as I can remember, the standard of beauty for women in my family was straight hair and fair skin. This is often the case for women of African descent in America. Many young black women are raised to believe that the straighter their hair and lighter their skin, the more beautiful they are. It's ingrained and is an undercurrent in many black communities.

Consequently, many (not all) black women spend 100s of dollars on chemical straighteners (relaxers) ... time avoiding the sun (which will cause them to tan)... and trying not to get their hair wet. I have always been one of these women. Since I was 10 or 12 years old I have gotten my hair relaxed every 4-6 weeks. Lately, it's been every 6 because the cost is exorbitant (relatively).

What I have started to question is... why? What's this craziness all about? AND... what does this mean in the context of the vows I professed (and renewed!)?

Why? I have always told myself that straightened hair is easier and more manageable. However, if I'm really honest with myself, that's not the reason. It's because of vanity... and because of the deep-seated notion that curly/kinky, uncontrolled hair is less desirable than the sleek, straight look.

So, what does this have to do with vows & religious life?
  • Let's take a look at the vow of poverty. On a practical level, the vow has to do with the proper use of resources - and deeper, it has to do with the proper relationship to resources. Is it desirable that I should use our resources every 6 weeks for this purpose? Could those resources be better used?
  • In relation to the vow of chastity... does vanity have any place here? True, I shouldn't go around looking like I don't take care of myself. However, at what point does it become self-serving vanity? Why should it be important to me what people think about something so unimportant as my hair?
  • Obedience to God's movement in my life/our lives... should I really be using our resources for this purpose? What is my obligation to the congregation?

And so... where does this leave me? I've decided to grow out my relaxer and "go natural." Now, this may seem like a no-brainer to some, but it's a lot more difficult than one might think. It requires that I change the way in which I view the world, myself, and what makes something/someone beautiful. It's not just physical, but psychological.

I've worn my curly/kinky/unruly hair around the house and out in public (heaven forbid!) for the past few days. Am I self-conscious? More than I can put into words! Do people look at me funny? It seems that way. And yet... there's a certain amount of freedom in letting go of a false concept of self. God has given me curly hair. It's about time I embrace it instead of denying it!

Many blessings to you all!
Sr. N

Monday, June 22, 2009

When you discover your belovedness by God in solitude,
you see the belovedness of other people in community
and can call that beauty forth in ministry.
Henri Nouwen

Wow. It's already been 10 days since I last posted... There's so much to say, though, it seems it's been much longer...

As my last blog indicated, there have been 3 "big" events recently: the Giving Voice conference, my birthday, and the renewal of my vows. And in a funny way, they all connect, in that that they all have called me to deeper reflection on relationships, community life, and the gifts of both.

The weekend of June 11-14 I was in Milwaukee at Alverno College (a small school run by the School Sisters of St. Francis) for Giving Voice. Approximately 60 sisters under the age of 50 gathered - to share insights, discuss our deepest hopes for living community, share stories, and celebrate the life we live. Our presenter, Dr. Louisa Saffiotti spoke with us from the perspective of family systems theory... about what healthy community is and the obstacles to said life. We also had 2 facilitators of conversation - Sr. Maria Cimperman, OSU and Sr. Kathleen Feely, SND. It was a fabulous weekend. Many things to ponder and pray about... and the beginnings of friendships.

I had the chance to meet a few sister bloggers while I was there - Sr. Susan from Musings of a Discerning Woman and a woman just entering her community, Juliet from Seeking Sophie. Sr. Katy from Religious Life Rocks: The Adventures of One Fun Nun was there (as part of the planning team), but I didn't get a chance to really chat with her. Anyway, it was good to meet so many younger women who have decided to take the risk...

After the conference was over, I had the chance to meet up with a friend I hadn't seen in almost 10 years! After college I did a year of volunteer work in a little town in the southwestern part of Texas. I lived with 4 other recent college grads: Nicki from Wisconsin, Amy from Minnesota, Lina from the Bronx, and Julie from northern Kentucky. Julie passed away the year after our volunteer year (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). Amy was able to make it to my vows last year. Lina and I lost touch a few years ago. Nicki and I have kept in sporadic touch over the years (facebook helps), but I hadn't seen her since she and Amy visited me in San Antonio years ago. Anyway, Nicki now lives in Milwaukee. We only had about 2 hours together, but it was so good to chat and catch up - in person. We decided we shouldn't let nearly 10 years go by without face-to-face time!

So, I returned to San Antonio to face the reality that I hadn't done any of the reading I was supposed to do for class (Principles of Theological Method). Was that a mistake? I'm thinking no. I think relationship building while I was in Milwaukee was the priority. Karl Rahner could wait...

Last Tuesday was my birthday. Can I really be 34 already?! Anyway, I was flooded with facebook messages, e-mails and reminders of people's care and concern for me. It was a little overwhelming, but in a good way. Our community celebrated on Thursday evening... that was nice.

On Friday evening I celebrated with 2 very good friends, Bro. Brandon and Bro. Dennis. We had dinner together and then went out for ice cream and conversation. Since both of them are Marianist brothers we always talk about religious life, the mission of the Marianist family, community, relationships and how God is moving in our lives. We talked for HOURS... I find conversations like that to be life-giving in many ways.

Then, yesterday, in the midst of evening prayer, I renewed my vows in the presence of our San Antonio community, Bro. Brandon, my sister, her granddaughter and a family friend. It was a very simple vespers with a few songs and prayed in choirs. But it was meaningful in many ways, as I'm sure you can imagine. After the prayer service, we had a wonderful meal followed by ice cream and fresh strawberries. It doesn't get much better than that!

And so, it's been days of relationship building, community, and reflecting/sharing on life as a religious in the 21st century. These weeks have called to mind what a blessing the people in my life are and how God often acts in my life through the people around me. I have also reflected on areas of growth in my life in community in balance with how much I have grown in the past year.

I will leave you now. I really should get moving on what will be a full day. I've moved on from Rahner and now am reading David Tracy... certainly not any easier to read!

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Courage, God will work with and for you.
What can we not do with the help of God's grace?...
Walk boldly!
Venerable Mother Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon

Very brief reflection today... I'm writing at the airport... not too long before boarding a flight. I sat down to write yesterday, but really didn't have the focus to say anything. However, I wanted to write before the weekend...

Yesterday the Marianists celebrated the 220th birthday of Mother Adele - foundress of the Marianist Sisters and one of the 3 founders of the Marianist Family. I've written many times about our foundress. One thing I never focused on was the aspect of her spirituality evidenced by the above quote... She was a woman of courage. Not fearlessness, necessarily, but true, virtuous courage. The kind that comes from an unwavering confidence in God. (My flight is starting to board! Soon to go!)

Anyway, I find this an important aspect on which to focus - especially in this week ahead. This weekend I'm attending a conference in Milwaukee - the annual Giving Voice conference (see website below). In Milwaukee many women religious ages 50 & younger will gather to share, pray and discuss community life - now and into the future. Moving forward, through the unknown, in religious life (or any path of life) implies a type of courage that Adele had... rooted in confidence in God's abiding love.

Next Tuesday I will celebrate another birthday... then next weekend I will renew my vows as a Marianist sister. It marks another year, yes, but also are reminders of the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God. Therefore, I can "walk boldly."

Well, I need to shut down now. I will write more after the events of the week...

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God
that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice,
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.
2 Timothy 1: 6b-8

Happy Pentecost! What a glorious feast we celebrate this day! Pentecost is a reminder to me of many things: the great blessing we've been given in the Holy Spirit... the fact that the Spirit is active in our lives and in our world... the way God has empowered us to preach, to love, and to serve... and... the fact that in many ways our world is in need of a "push" from the Spirit...

Evidence of the Spirit's actions have been so apparent to me in the past couple of weeks...

Last weekend I witnessed the first profession of vows of two Marianist Brothers. What a beautiful celebration! It was a not only a moving experience and a reminder of my own vowed commitment to the Marianist mission, but it was also a lively celebration of culture. Brandon is Samoan... born in Hawai'i. Ray is Salvadorean. There were elements of both of their cultural heritages brought into the celebration - from Hawai'ian chants, leis, and shirts in "Aloha print" to Spanish music and Ray being blessed by his parents before professing. I had the pleasure of singing with the choir. The music was fun... a little Hawai'ian, a little Spanish... upbeat and happy. Each of the newly professed brothers professed their vows in their language. What a celebration!

The profession of vows is no doubt a movement of the Holy Spirit within the heart of the person professing and within the congregation.

Monday of last week, Labor Day, our sisters celebrated our Foundation Day. May 25, 1816 our foundress, Venerable Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon, set out with a few young women to journey to their new home and to begin their new life together as religious women dedicated to Mary's mission in the world. The foundation of our congregation and its continuation since then is a clear sign of the Spirit's actions. The Marianist sisters are who we are because of the gentle and ever-present guidance of the Spirit.

We celebrated our foundation in Dayton with Mass with our brothers and then a festive meal and afternoon prayer at our house. Then, Monday afternoon... I, too, set out on a journey like Adele...

I arrived in San Antonio late Monday night. Tuesday I spent time settling in, chatting with our sisters and resting. Wednesday morning I began my summer course work at St. Mary's Univ. I've had bits of time here and there to visit with a few people around and to gather with former co-workers from Central Catholic Marianist High School at their post-graduation celebration. But, I've also been reading/studying.

This weekend I am helping out at an archdiocesan discernment retreat called "Life Awareness." It's a collaborative effort between the archdiocesan vocations office and the local vocations directors of the religious communities in the area. The participants are people 18 years old and up who are considering religious life or diocesan priesthood. There are 45 participants on this retreat. The Spirit is in deed active in their lives and moving in them toward a deepening of their relationship with God. That call to a deepening relationship may be a call to religious life/priesthood or it may not. But their presence at the retreat and their prayerful participation is certainly a visible sign of the Spirit's stirring within them. ... The sessions on the retreat and the times of prayer have been really good and thought provoking - even for those of us in religious life!

A surprise blessing from my presence at the retreat has been the opportunity to meet other young religious women and men. It is always such a blessing to meet younger people from other congregations... to share with them, laugh with them, and dream with them.

In addition to these reminders of the Spirit's presence & action, today's feast also calls to mind the missionary aspect of the Spirit's presence. The Spirit was given to each person for the building up of the Church - so that the mission of Jesus might continue in our world. The Spirit animates, guides, strengthens and encourages. We do, however, need to respond. So, Pentecost causes me to ask... How is the Spirit moving within me? To what is the Spirit calling me? To whom is the Spirit moving me to serve & how? Is there anyting within me blocking the action of the Spirit through me? ... And not only do I ask these questions of myself, but I ask them in light of my community, the congregation, and the Church... What is the Spirit asking of us? To what is the Spirit calling us? .... Important questions, no?

May we have the open hearts and minds necessary to truly listen that we might be guided continually by the Spirit that is so generously given.

Blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

God has not called me to be successful. God has called me to be faithful.
Mother Theresa

As promised, today I will attempt to update you on life in the world of this Marianist Sister. I start with a fairly famous quote from one of my role models. Mother Theresa has been a role model of mine for many years. And although the quote is one with which I was familiar, it comes to me today in much more clarity than in the past.

In my ministry at UD I am on a 9 1/2 month contract... the beginning of August through mid-May. My first academic year was officially complete on Friday May 15. I am off from that ministry for the summer. Next Monday I will leave for 2 months in Texas. I'm returning to San Antonio to take a class at St. Mary's, visit family & friends, renew vows, make my annual retreat and direct the Marianist LIFE program. I will also be attending the Giving Voice annual conference in Milwaukee. While the summer is just as full as summers have always been for me, it'll still be a welcomed change of pace and a time to reflect.

My first year at UD was a good year - all things considered. Truth be told, I'm not sure anyone really "enjoys" transitions. I am certainly no exception. In August, as you may recall, I hit the ground running so to speak... not only was I still adjusting to living the life of a vowed religious and a full/active member of our congregation, but I was also adjusting to a few other things...
- a new ministry in which the hours were completely opposite of my body's natural rhythm. I'm naturally a morning person and have no problem being in bed before 10pm... however, as a residence hall campus minister some gatherings/meetings don't start until 10pm. On many nights, I was just getting home around midnight.
- working for an educational institution of this size. When I was teaching, the largest school for which I taught had approx. 520 students and less than 100 faculty/staff members. Contrast this to UD that has a student population of approx. 10000 with 100s of staff just in student development.
- this was my first year to live in Dayton for an entire academic year. While winter here would be considered mild compared to other places farther north, it's still significantly different from central Texas.
- being back in grad level courses... for credit. During novitiate I audited several grad classes. I benefitted from being in class and reading the material (and writing the occasional paper). This year I took one course each semester... completing all assignments and stressing a little about my ability to do the work.

And so, the first several months here were full of me making adjustments, discerning how realistic my expectations were (of self in ministry and self in community life), and further discerning my gifts, dreams and weaknesses. WHAT A YEAR OF GROWTH! I can not over state that. As I "emerged" from novitiate and the profession of first vows last summer, I felt ready to launch into my new adventures. By December I wasn't sure if I had overestimated my abilities or underestimated the stress of transition.

Reflecting on the year, as I prepare for my summer away and renewal of vows, I contemplate my very understanding of vocation, ministry, call, and success. If the vocation is to love more deeply the God who has called me and to love those who God places in my life... and ministry is a response to that vocation... then, what does it mean to be "successful?" Does it mean being the "perfect" campus minister? And what exactly does the "perfect" campus minister look like? Does it mean being completely self-sufficient - needing no assistance? What about classes?

I think it's fairly obvious that I struggle with perfectionism. If you're familiar with the enneagram, I'm a classic "1" for better or for worse. This is why the quote from Mother Theresa is so clear to me in my reflection. God has never asked for that type of success... or any type for that matter. That only matters in the eyes of people (including yours truly).

And what does God require of us... of me? "Only to do the right and to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God." Hmm... not perfection? No big accomplishments? No quantifiable goals reached and checked off the list??! I sense God saying in response with a loving sigh, "No, Nicole. That's your will, not mine. Love and faithfulness are what I ask. Be at peace, for it is I who wish to work in you. The mission isn't yours."

I am reminded now of the reflection of Archbishop Oscar Romero (another one of my role models). He once said,

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Such wisdom... This is the wisdom I will carry with me during my months away from Dayton. Before that, though...

This weekend is a full weekend for me before returning to Texas. On Saturday afternoon our two novices with the Marianist brothers, Bro. Brandon and Bro. Ray, will profess their first vows! What a joyous occasion! It'll be a weekend full of catching up with members of the Marianist family who are traveling to Dayton for the Mass and celebrating with our brothers. I very much look forward to these celebrations. It gives all of us an opportunity to reflect on this Marianist life to which we've been called.

Sorry for such a long post! It's been so long since I've written from this perspective, I suppose the floodgates opened, so to speak! Perhaps I shouldn't wait so long to post... Speaking of posting, Thursday May 21 my second Giving Voice reflection will be posted on their website. Feel free to check it out.

Many blessings to you!!
Sr. N

Monday, May 11, 2009

The church throughout all of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.~ Acts 9:31

Blessings to you on this Monday morning! This morning I am listening to the birds outside my window and watching the morning sky get brighter by the moment... my favorite way to start the day.

A few weeks ago I was asked to share a reflection on the website for Giving Voice. Giving Voice is a national organization for women religious ages 50 and younger. It's somewhat like a think tank, but more. I encourage you to visit their website

I'd like to share with you the reflection I wrote this morning for Giving Voice...

Each year during the Easter season we reflect on the nascent church as presented in the Acts of the Apostles. We consider missionary efforts, growth, persecution, the power of the Spirit and the ideal community that shares all in common and no one goes without. And although the readings are the same, I find that my reflections are quite different each year.

The quote above comes from Sunday’s first reading. It struck a stronger chord with me this year than in any other year. Consider our world, our Church, our communities. One could hardly say that we are at peace. We live in a violent world. We are a Church divided, mostly along partisan political lines. This was the focus of the homily preached at the university chapel in which our community celebrates Sunday Eucharist.

The post-resurrection Christ says to the disciples and to us continually, “Peace be with you.” How? At times peace seems elusive and idealistic. It depends, however, how one defines peace. The early Church was not without its own in fighting – look at Peter and Paul – or without being misunderstood and persecuted. And yet, we are told they were at peace.

I believe there’s a reason why during this season we have our Gospel readings taken from John. In these readings is found a key to this peace.

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit… will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid…. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me…. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love… This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”

Let us, then, root ourselves deeply in Christ that we might act in love. Though we may disagree and find very little common ground with some, may we not find ourselves discouraged or afraid of moving forward in love. This is the only path to peace.

Besides this reflection, I have much to share with you all about the goings on in my life... its blessings and lessons. However, that will have to wait for another day. Perhaps later this week?

Many blessings to all who read this,

Sr. N

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This is the day you have made for us, risen Lord,
a day of happiness and joy!
We pray to you, Lord:
make each day that you give us the most beautiful day of our lives,
because it is the day you have chosen for us to encounter you,
O risen Christ!
Thomas Merton

Happy Easter! I marvel at the glory of God! The past few weeks (Holy Week and the Octave of Easter, last week...) have truly been a blessing.

The Triduum, although the shortest liturgical season of the year, is full of overwhelmingly meaningful symbolism and sacramental practices. On Holy Thursday our community celebrated with the novitiate community of our Marianist brothers. We began with a celebratory meal (complete with lamb) and some time of socializing. Then we had a beautiful liturgy with the washing of the feet and exposition. Good Friday many of our sisters went downtown for the annual Walk for Justice - walking in the city praying the Stations of the Cross at various locations that represent certain injustices. I didn't go this year. It was rainy and cold and I had a terrible sore throat that morning. At 3pm most of us went to UD for the Good Friday services. What an absolutely moving liturgy. Holy Saturday we participated in the Vigil at UD... where two people were baptized by full immersion and two additional people were fully received into the Catholic Church... What a joy to witness!

Since that weekend, the beginning of 50 days of unbounded joy, life has been full, but true to the Easter season.

I spent this past weekend in south Florida for planning meetings for the Marianist LIFE South program which will take place in the summer. We worked very hard, but we also had the opportunity to visit with LIFE-connected folks in the area, pray, and relax together. Hollywood Florida was beautiful... palm trees, cool breezes, warm sun... It's easy for my heart to sing, "The Heavens are telling the glory of God!"

This morning... I awoke to a rising sun and singing birds. My winter clothes are put away now and spring has really begun in Dayton, OH - ALLELUIA!

The semester is also drawing to a close. Students are taking finals this week and graduation is this weekend. It's hard to believe that the academic year is pretty much over. It's bittersweet as it always is. I look forward to next year, but I will certainly miss those students who are graduating and moving on. That includes my very skilled and helpful graduate assistant. I don't know what I would have done without him! But, he will move on to a professional job in ministry for which he is extremely qualified. My new G.A. and I will have lunch this month to start planning for next year. "Time marches on. Time marches on."

Well, I'm off to start this beautiful Monday morning!
Many Easter blessings to all who read this,
Sr. N

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I honor the wisdom of pausing.
A short refreshing pause can enhance my growing awareness
that all work has the potential of becoming love made visible - a blessing.
Macrina Wiedeckehr, OSB

Happy Palm Sunday and entrance to Holy Week! I can't believe it's already been more than a month since the last time I posted. I suppose as of late, that's par for the course, so to speak! However, I am hopeful that I will be back to the blogging world more frequently as the academic year closes out...

This weekend our community took a much needed break. We went on retreat... a silent retreat for the most part. We had prayer together Friday evening, 3 times on Saturday and then this morning we closed with Palm Sunday Eucharist at a parish to which we're connected. Saturday night we also had faith sharing and a social after night prayer... time to enjoy each other's company.

What a fabulous weekend it was. Macrina Wiedeckehr, OSB (quoted above) wrote a book entitled Seven Sacred Pauses about the wisdom in pausing to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Our time together this weekend focused on these pauses in the day. And for me, this weekend was one long sacred pause... steeped in prayer, enriched by Scripture, shared with my Sisters... a great blessing.

In the first reading for today's Eucharist Isaiah states, "Morning after morning [God] opens my ear that I may hear." While I believe and know this to be true, I also know that one has to have a certain disposition in order to facilitate this. Pausing in the day to recognize God's presence, acknowledge God's goodness and graciousness and to seek wisdom is part of what I see as a necessary disposition before God.

This weekend I brought no work with me... no computer... my cell phone was off... I wanted to be completely attentive to the movement of God. How different this weekend was than some previous weekends with meetings, appointments, cleaning, and writing papers! Granted, there's nothing wrong with what fills my weekends, but too many of those in a row and a person could lose his/her grounding...

I read a quote from Henri Nouwen this weekend that says it very well...
I like to think of the spiritual life as the turning of a wagon wheel: when we run along the rim, we can reach only one spoke at a time, but when we start at the hub, we are in touch with all the spokes at once as well as the rim. What does the wheel represent? The hub is communion with God in our heart, connecting with the many spokes of community, on out to the rim of the wheel of ministry. If we are too active in our ministry, it's like we are running around the rim trying to reach everybody at once, all the time. But God says, "Start in the hub; live in the hub. Then you will be connected with all the spokes. And when you get to the rim, you won't have to run so fast."
Simple... yet, this was a profound insight for me - the perpetual workaholic.

I pray that your Holy Week gives you much opportunity to take a sacred pause... to encounter God in a deeper and more profound way.

Many blessings to all who read this,
Sr. N

Monday, March 02, 2009

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Where has the time gone? Here we are in the second week of Lent... and I've had a unusual start to this, my favorite liturgical season.

Last month I posted about the death of our sister Christine. I'm not sure if I mentioned this in the post - she lived here in Dayton, but did not live with us in community because she needed support for numerous health issues. So, in the wake of her death, our community finds itself not only dealing with the emotions of losing someone so suddenly, but also with the practical details of cleaning out an apartment, sorting clothing to donate, making arrangements for the donation of Sr. Christine's many musical instruments, donating & moving furniture and shutting off phone, electric, cable etc. Needless to say, our lives have been extremely full with grieving, celebrating life, and making necessary arrangements.

I'd like to say that I've been able to be helpful in this process. However, timing has largely left me out of all the practical details. On Ash Wednesday I left Dayton to attend the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. It was a phenomenal trip. I was there largely as a part of our vocation ministry. On Thursday I attended the Congress Youth Day with a group from Chaminade College Prep, a Marianist school outside of LA. Then Friday through Sunday I helped staff a vocations booth at the congress exhibition hall. I was blessed to be able to connect with friends, attend a workshop and celebrate in several amazing prayer services & Eucharistic liturgies. Then, after the Congress I spent the following Monday visiting with seniors at Chaminade about vocations. That was a great day...

The following days, however, were filled with sickness. I returned from LA with a flu-like virus that I'm still not completely over. I slept for the better part of 3 days and when awake suffered from a headache that was one of the most painful ones I've had...

It was during this time - while I was in LA and while I was recovering - that the community was doing the majority of the cleaning and clearing out of Sr. Christine's apartment.

This is how Lent began for us. ... 

I am reflecting this Lent on God's grace in the midst of difficulty and what might look to us like weakness. Sr. Edith Prendergast, RSC wrote, "God speaks to us not only in the beauty but also in the difficulties, weaknesses and struggles that we encounter. Grace often appears when we are in pain... At times like these, grace beckons us to put our trust in God."

This has no doubt been a difficult several weeks. It is in times like this that God's grace can truly be made manifest. For it is not by our strength, but by God's that we walk this journey. And it is for this grace that I am truly grateful. 

How does this relate to my Lenten journey? I am fasting from self-reliance so that I may feast on an ever-growing dependance on God.

May all who read this be abundantly blessed in this Lenten journey,
Sr. N

Monday, February 16, 2009

Now let your servant go in peace...

Friday morning February 13 Marianist sister Christine Marie Stevens passed away in her sleep... peacefully, but quite unexpectantly. She was a sister who lived here in Dayton, but did not live with us in community due to health issues. She lived in a sort of assisted living apartment, but always came home for Mass and supper once a week with the community.

This is our second loss in a month's time. It's never easy to say good-bye to a sister. It's even more difficult when there are more than one in such a short time. Because we, the Marianist sisters, have not been in the US for a long period of time (our province is 60 years old), this is the first sister to pass away in Dayton.

As we are busy about making preparations and phone calls... and going through Sr. Chris's personal effects, we also recall the gift she was to the Marianist family. A wonderfully creative person, she was a stellar artist and musician. She taught for a number of years - both art and band - and served as spiritual companion to many.

Here are some words from her obituary:
Sr. Christine entered the Marianist Sisters on July 16, 1959, professed first vows August 22, 1962, and perpetual vows on August 22, 1965, all in San Antonio, TX. She received a BA in Music in 1956 from The Ohio State University and an MA in Sacred Doctrine from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio in 1969. Sr. Christine taught in Catholic schools in San Antonio and Dayton for 26 years. She began her teaching career at St. James School, San Antonio in 1963 before moving to Dayton where she taught at Alter High School. In the summers, Sr. Christine worked with the Edgemont Community Garden and programs for inner city youth. Sr. Christine moved into pastoral ministry, beginning as a Campus Minister at the University of Dayton, serving on the retreat team at the Marianist Apostolic Center in Glencoe MO and returning to Campus Ministry at Christian Brothers’ College in Memphis Tennessee. For 9 years she was a parish minister at Guardian Angels Parish in Cincinnati, OH. In 1990 Chris returned to Dayton, this time specializing in Band development in the Catholic schools. In 1997, Sr. Christine started teaching art at Ascension Catholic School, the position from which she retired in 2006. In her retirement, Sr. Christine took joy in volunteering at We Care Arts, playing clarinet in the New Horizons Jazz Band at the University of Dayton, and sharing life with the residents of Twin Towers and Huffman Place

May our Sister Christine rest in God.
Sr. N

Monday, January 19, 2009

My concern has always been for the people who are victimized, unable to speak for themselves and who need outside help.
Joan Baez

The picture here was taken at the closing dinner of the Marianist Sisters' Province Assembly in the 2007. It is one of my favorites... the oldest American Marianist Sister, Sr. Laola Hironaka, with me, the youngest American Marianist Sister.

On Friday evening, Jan. 17, Sr. Laola passed away peacefully after suffering a short, but aggressive illness. She was 83 years old.

What can I say about this amazing woman? For one, she loved life. She had a certain joie de vivre. She loved to dance (who else can hula in their 80s??)... she loved to laugh... she liked long conversations with friends and sharing stories. She enjoyed meeting people who were different from herself and really taking an interest in their lives. In other words, she never met a stranger. Everywhere she went she would engage people she had never met in conversations about their lives, their hopes, struggles, joys and families. She loved people....

This love for people was clearly seen in her tireless work for peace and justice. While doing graduate studies at UC Berkeley, she got involved with Amnesty International in its first years. She wrote letters and started petitions on behalf of prisoners of war and those imprisoned unjustly. She became what's called a country specialist - studying the justice issues of a particular country to raise awareness and to help people get involved in ending the injustice. This continued from her time at Berkeley until pretty recently. She also was involved in the fight to end human trafficking (

Although Sr. Laola was one of the most intelligent people I knew (she was brilliant, really) her "fight" against injustice was not a solely intellectual pursuit for her. For instance, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when hundreds of evacuees where sheltered in San Antonio, she visited them daily... listening to stories, bringing a pair of shoes to one woman who asked, playing with children, praying with people... just being present to them. She always said that she wished she could do more...

She lived with a joy that was rooted in her deep faith in God. That is where she found the energy (and believe me, she had energy) and the desire to do what she did. I would be tempted to say that she was saintly. However, I can hear her now saying, "Saintly?! Why would I want that boring life?!" Did I mention her sense of humor?

She had a love for beauty in all its manifestations... from wildflowers she'd pick on her walks, to the ocean beaches in her beloved home of Hawai'i... from cool breezes to the sunsets she and I would watch from the driveway of our home in San Antonio... She had the kind of vision that could truly enjoy what was good in gratitude and humility.

I started this blog with a quote from one of her favorite artist... and someone with whom she had a relationship because of her time at Berkeley. Another fascinating thing about our dear Laola was the fact that she had connections in the music industry that I could never quite figure out. Why would Bono call our house to chat with her? Or how could she talk about Joan Baez as if she was one of our neighbors? By the way, a few days after the Bono phone call she says to me, "Oh, do you know him?" ... She was completely unfazed by celebrity. For her people were just people... all deserving respect... whether they be famous or homeless. It didn't matter to her. That was the beauty of her spirit.

I could go on and on. I learned a lot from her and enjoyed living with her immensely. I'll end with one of her favorite passages from Scripture...

Deep is calling on deep, in the roar of waters: your torrents and all your waves swept over me. ~ Psalm 42 (Monday Week II of the Psalter, morning prayer)

Many blessings to all who read this... Sr. Laola, pray for us
Sr. N

Sunday, January 11, 2009

You must blame my busy schedule 
and not my heart for my delay in extending to you my New Year's wishes.... 
May you make great spiritual strides during this year...
Venerable Mother Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon
Foundress of the Marianist Sisters
Letter 634, January 12, 1826

I tell you, I just can't get over the speed with which the days go by! It seems that I just wrote yesterday and yet weeks have gone by. I hope you can forgive my neglect!

I begin tonight's post with a quote from our foundress. It is appropriate as her feast day was yesterday. The words of the quote are also quite appropriate given the situation. Anyway, we did not celebrate her feast day yesterday, per se, though. Yesterday we celebrated the life of a committed Lay Marianist who passed away late last month. Tomorrow, we will celebrate the life of Mother Adele.

Yesterday evening members of various Marianist communities, both lay and vowed, gathered for Mass at Queen of Apostles Parish to remember the life of Joe Cavanaugh, a graduate of the University of Dayton, Lay Marianist, committed husband, and a tireless advocate of peace and justice. There were stories told, laughter, tears and a shared meal following the Mass. We supported his widow and each other in our shared loss.

Tomorrow evening, the Marianist family and students will gather for a vespers service at UD followed by a reception to celebrate the example given in Mother Adele. After that, our community will share supper with one of the communities of Marianist brothers and priests.

As Marianists we celebrate well. We gather in good times and in sad times... to welcome new people to our Marianist family, to recall our founders and their vision... to bid someone farewell... We celebrate by sharing Eucharist and stories, laughter and tears, prayers of thanksgiving and of petition and always support, companionship, love for one another and faith in the God that has called us to be Marianists.

This, I believe, is part of our gift to the Church and the world as Marianists. Not, of course, our only gift... and maybe not our most important one, but a gift nonetheless. And that I sometimes take for granted and forget how thankful I am for this our Marianist family.

Yes, we celebrate well. But, we don't celebrate just for ourselves or just to have an excuse for fun...

We celebrate as a witness and a reminder that God is faithful. We come together and invite others to join us as a reminder that all people are invited and no one is to be left out. And we come together to renew a sense of common mission and family - we do not do this alone. We support, challenge and encourage one another in word and mostly by example. 

In a world that seems so wrong and all messed up, we gather in a spirit of hope and faith - God... life... love are the victors.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N