Our International Family

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | May 9, 2012 |

It is such a great joy for us to welcome our Sisters participating in the SND International Health Care Conference as they visit our province!  After finishing their meetings in Covington, KY, they have visited our Sisters in Chardon and are now spending a couple of days here in Toledo.  It is at times like this that we are made especially aware of the blessing of our internationality.  Welcome, Sisters!

Don’t Worry. Be Happy!

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | May 4, 2012 |

I have to smile when I hear the words from today’s Gospel: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  It always seems to bring to mind the song:  “Don’t worry. Be happy.”  While I doubt that Jesus sang this particular message, I do believe He wants us to be happy.

As Sisters of Notre Dame, we strive to live the spirit of a deep experience of God’s goodness and provident care.  We are challenged each day to trust in God’s incredible love for us.  While a certain amount of concern about people and situations is appropriate, God invites us to trust Him enough to believe that He can handle whatever is before us.

Mary is our model for this daily loving surrender in trust. May she intercede for each of us the grace of true joy that results from entrusting our lives to Jesus.

Undue worry only wastes energy.  I once read that conserving our inner energy by not worrying is an important expression of stewardship.  How will I steward my energy today?

International Health Care Conference

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | April 30, 2012 |

Yesterday was our house’s “road trip” day as we took two of our Sisters to Covington, KY, for the SND International Health Care Conference.  Sisters from our provinces all over the world are meeting these next two weeks to share the many ways our Sisters engage in health care.  It was quite exciting to see Sisters from India, Indonesia, Korea, Europe and the U.S. already gathered.  The Sisters from Brazil were still on their way.

I’m grateful that Sister Mary Ralph Gerdeman, our province pharmacist, and Sister Mary Jo Toll whose ministry is with our UN NGO are at the meeting to represent our province.  Already yesterday as the Sisters gathered, there was talk of new and innovative ways our Sisters might collaborate with health care initiatives.

Being the loving mother she was, I’m sure Mary knew much about caring for the physical and mental well-being of others.  It seems likely that Jesus’ healing ministry had its foundation in the love and care He experienced in His early years.  As in all of our ministries, our Sisters in health care look to Jesus and Mary to know how to best meet the needs of others.

Have you experienced the healing care (physical, mental, spiritual) of one of our Sisters?  Have you been a source of healing ministry for someone?

Mary, Guiding Light

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | April 27, 2012 |

I had the privilege this morning of taking part in the 108-year tradition of May Crowning at Notre Dame Academy. “Notre Dame Day” is decidedly one of the most significant days of the academic year at the Academy.  As a ’75 alum, it certainly brings back memories of our annual celebration, especially in my senior year.

It’s so good to know that Mary continues to be a strong influence in the lives of these young women. As we prayed the rosary together, I joined the students, faculty, senior parents and alums in asking that Mary be a guiding light for each of them as they follow in her way of bringing Jesus to the world.

What memories do you have of May Crowning, either at NDA or in your parish/school? What is Mary’s role in your life?

Detours, Road Blocks and Construction

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | April 24, 2012 |

I couldn’t help but smile as we tried to make our way from Mass at the Cathedral to the Provincial Center this morning.  What is usually a 7 minute drive ended up taking closer to 25 minutes.  Our first delay was a tiny dog that wandered out into the street and hid under a truck that had stopped for a school bus. Fortunately, the driver of the truck had seen the dog.  Traffic stopped as everyone waited to see if the dog would run out, but it was too frightened to move.  It wasn’t until the driver climbed out of his truck, got down on the ground and coaxed the dog out that it finally made its way across the street.  And all this on a city street at a fairly busy time of the morning!

After that, we entered the construction zone and single lane traffic. Yes, the world of orange barrels!  We slowly wound our way through.  Upon reaching our property, it became clear that we wouldn’t be making the usual left hand turn into the property because of the backed up traffic. A detour around the block solved the issue, and here we are!

It seems I find ourselves facing detours, road blocks and interruptions of many kinds during my days.  Each one presents me with the choice of becoming irritated or taking in the present moment.  Mary knew how to make the best of the unexpected twists and turns in her life. I do well to take to heart her advice, “Do whatever He tells you.”

How will I respond to the detours I encounter today?

More than a decoration?

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | April 20, 2012 |

Now that almost two weeks have passed since Easter, it’s obvious that our society has moved on.  The only Easter decorations that one sees in stores are in the discount bins.  Greeting card displays now include Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards. Store themes are focused on summer and Fourth of July celebrations.  It makes me stop and wonder if the transformation of my Lenten and Easter celebration is already stored away and forgotten for another year?

Sister Mary Regeen Ulrich, one of our Sister artists, decorates Easter eggs in some pretty amazing ways.  I know the final products reflect hours of loving labor, and it’s sad to see these works of art disappear for another year. The eggs are so fragile and the decorations are so intricate.  I’m reminded of the energy and commitment I put into my Lenten resolutions. Were they more than a seasonal decoration?  The transformation that occurs in our lives can be somewhat fragile, requiring ongoing nurturing and attention in order for it to last.

Mary knew the importance of faithfully tending her inner spirit throughout all of the seasons of life. Her love was consistent and true, helping her to weather the hard times and rejoice in the good times.

Are Lent/Easter 2012 anything more than a decoration?

Unity of all Creation

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | April 11, 2012 |

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the death of Teilhard de Chardin, (May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955), a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist. Chardin stands in the ranks of those individuals who have contributed greatly to the Church’s understanding of the close relationship of faith and science.  While not always understood or accepted, his teachings have strongly influenced the Church’s appreciation of science in its deepening understanding of creation and truth.

Our Sister Julia Marie Hutchison and Sister Janet Doyle, OP are helping to lead a group of individuals who seek to explore and more fully grasp Chardin’s understanding of consciousness, evolution, and the unity of all creation. With their backgrounds as teachers, principals and superintendents, they are especially interested in how Evolutionary Spirituality impacts education today.

I suspect that Mary understood in a profound way the unity of all life and creation as she nurtured the life of the very God who had given her life and brought this life to a world drenched in hope of fulfillment. May we learn from her the dignity of all creation in the transforming process that will bring us to the fullness of life in God.

Welcome New Members!

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | April 7, 2012 |

For many reasons, the Easter Vigil is like no other liturgical celebration during our year. The rich symbols and sacramentality give expression to the core of our Catholic faith and beliefs. I can think of no better way to embrace our catechumens and candidates for full communion in the faith! Many of them arrive at this point after long and winding journeys, hopefully with a sense of coming home. I’m grateful for many of our Sisters and other parish ministers who companion these individuals on their journey in RCIA programs, individual instruction or in our schools.

I remember well the Easter Vigil in 2001 when I had the opportunity to participate in the liturgy at St. Susanna Church in Rome. This is the English speaking parish (for which I was most grateful!) and one of the Churches from the early days of our Christian history.  I remember being struck with the awesome realization that  in that space we celebrated the early martyrs and the newest members of our faith community.  That experience has changed the way I’ve celebrated the Easter Vigil ever since!

I can only imagine the joy in Mary’s heart when she met individuals who came to believe in her Son and follow Him either during His days on earth or in the post-Resurrection Church. I know she continues to welcome our newest members today.

Who do you know that is entering our Catholic Church this Easter? Welcome to all our newest members!

Praying Twice

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | April 4, 2012 |

We’ve all heard the saying that “To sing is to pray twice.”  I’m especially conscious of this during our Holy Week liturgies and times of prayer.  It often strikes me how much I take “good” liturgical music for granted.

Several of our Sisters are involved here at our Provincial Center and in various parishes in planning and providing music that aids us in our prayer throughout the liturgical year. I am so grateful for the selfless giving of all liturgists, instrumentalists and choir members who make it possible for me to enter fully into the spirit of prayer and worship.  Weeks like this can stretch them to the limits as they give and give and give.

As a young man, Jesus likely learned to chant the Jewish liturgy in the Synagogue, but I suspect He also learned more familiar melodies from His Mother, Mary. Perhaps she sang  Him to sleep at night or He listened to her humming throughout the day.  It’s likely that she taught Him this intimate way of connecting with the Father.

Who are some of the musicians in your family or parish who have helped you to pray through music?


A “Fragrant” Family

By Sr. Marilyn Marie | April 2, 2012 |

Today’s Gospel reading takes us back to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. We’ve visited here on two other occasions; once, when we learned of the tension between Martha’s preoccupation with service and Mary’s contemplative listening and again, when we heard of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  Today’s account tells of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume.  Is it significant that at the raising of Lazarus we’re told of the stench of the decaying body, and today we hear of the fragrance of Mary’s perfume filling the house?  Someone has a keen sense of smell!

I’ve noticed over the years that certain smells remind me of particular places or people.  The smell of freshly baked sugar cookies reminds me of my grandmother, the smell of candles reminds me of times as an elementary student when I helped in the parish Church/sacristy, and the smell of floor wax reminds me of my early days here in the convent.

I was once told that the origin of the name “Mary” (I can’t remember which language) is “living fragrance.” This seems to fit well in today’s Gospel reading as well as in relation to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Mary’s whole life was a living fragrance, reminding others of Jesus.  Simply by living her daily life, she filled the world with the fragrance of Jesus.

Are there fragrances/smells connected to the memories in your life? What fragrance will you spread by your life today?