Category Archives: Ministry

Harambee … “Let’s all work together.”

Sister Gwynette Proctor is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who serves as Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Her ministry focuses Gwynette-Proctor--web-300on evangelization, leadership development and cultural competence training and education. She offers in-service workshops in teaching tolerance for teachers and administrators in schools and parishes. Sr. Gwynette works with Archdiocesan agencies to create more diversity in these communities in the greater Baltimore area.

In 1984, Sr. Gwynette saw a pressing need in the city of Baltimore. She envisioned and founded a program to reach out to young Black lives, in collaboration with the Catholic Archdiocese in Baltimore. Harambee Catholic Youth Organization is a network of 16 Black parishes which work together and share resources for spiritual, cultural and leadership development of youth. Sr. Gwynette describes the need, purpose and goals of this program.

Harambee . . . “Let’s all work together.”
By Sister Gwynette Proctor, SNDdeN

In Baltimore, Maryland USA, young people strive to create a path out of extreme poverty and hopelessness. The odds against success are enormous as thousands of young people either graduate from or drop out of dysfunctional public school systems each year. Lacking the necessary skills, knowledge and motivation to press for success, they wander aimlessly and/or find menial jobs that do not pay a living wage. At some point, an all-consuming despair and hopelessness takes root. They become adults who have no voice.  Out of sight and forgotten, they are pushed to the edges of our communities and they continue to live and expect to die believing “no one cares.”

At a gathering of 100 representatives from the Black Catholic Parishes in 1984, the Harambee Catholic Youth Organization began its outreach. The group realized that the multiple challenges facing our young people could not be adequately addressed by one parish alone. The gathering decided that together, they could have a greater influence on and increased resources to support our young.  Harambee, which in Swahili means “Let’s All Work Together,” is a network of 16 Black Catholic Parishes and offers programs that center on three aspects of outreach to and with Black Catholic youth: Spiritual Enrichment, Cultural Enrichment, and Leadership Development.

Harambee-Group-1-web

Spiritual enrichment and Christian formation are the foundations that inspire our children, youth and adults to trust in a good God that can and will carry them through difficult times. One hundred youth gather for prayer services and Days of Reflection. Another 70 young adults from ten different parishes participate in “Into the Woods with Christ,” the annual retreat on a camping trip to Swallow Falls State Park.

Harambee has also a choir, led by youth and composed of over 50 African American youth.  It hosts a regional Youth Revival for 150 young people from neighboring states who lift their voices in prayer and song in praise of our good God acting in and through them.

Hamarabee-Group-2-Philadelphia-Liberty-Bell-webCultural enrichment keeps our youth connected to the achievements and legacy of the ancestors. Every culture has a language and a perspective that gives insight into the human condition.  African and African American culture helps Black youth to “know who they are and whose they are.” Exploring African roots begins with an awareness of the divine and stories of a people who survived beyond slave ships, shackles and racism.

Hamarabee-Group-3-Bishop-John-Ricard--web
Bishop John Ricard with participants.

Each year the group engages in the “Harambee Freedom Ride.”  This cultural emersion trip provides young participants with time away from their homes to be one with God, their peers and the historical, cultural and spiritual monuments and memories of African American leaders of our Church and throughout the country. At the conclusion of this experience, Bishop John Ricard leads a commissioning service at the Mother of Africa Chapel in Washington, D.C.

Leadership Development focuses on expanding and enhancing leadership skills among African American youth. This outreach in the program facilitates opportunities for youth to develop leadership, organizational, communication and peer ministry skills for service in the Church, school and community. Young people gain the spiritual and cultural strength to heal the scars of racism, combat the many negative societal challenges and strive to break the cycles of poverty that plague our communities of color in the city of Baltimore.

Harambee is one of several programs offered by the Office of Black Catholic Ministries which strives to “win the lost, build believers and equip disciples through the Catholic tradition.”

GW June 2016 – Harambee .pdf

Good Works Archive on sndden.org

Children in Nicaragua Find Hope

By Sister Rebecca Trujillo, SNDdeN

GWNov2015-cover-300-pxThe Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) extends to Matagalpa, a small rural town in northern Nicaragua, in a diocesan ministry to families who have children with handicapped conditions. At Special Families of Saint Julie Billiart (Familias Especiales de  Santa Julia Billiart), opened in 1996, families discover that they are not alone in their struggles. Mothers and their children find hope in a different  process for healing. Horses help to heal children. This world-wide treatment is an exclusive rehabilitation therapy, receiving recognition across the globe. Special Families (FE) has advanced this method of healing, without cost, begun in 2002 in a program for more than 500 children from the most deprived neighborhoods. This special therapy gives children with any disability a greater opportunity for physical improvement and social integration.

The family of Don Alvares Reyes,  who owns a horse ranch, supports St. Julie’s Mission of reaching out to vulnerable little ones, “the poor in the most abandoned places.” (SNDdeN Constitutions, #5, and Rule of 1818) Each week, this family reserves for Special Families two GWNov2015-4-600-pxhorses and the use of their property. Gustavo Vallejos and Suhey Meza Vallejos, staff at FE, four days a week, bring mothers and their children with disabilities to this ranch where the children meet Jacaranda and Encantada, two horses which work wonders.

These are no ordinary horses; they belong to an award-winning Spanish breed, treated like professional athletes. In the beginning, Asombrada was the first horse to be a part of the therapy sessions. When retired, she was quickly replaced by Jacaranda and Encantada (almost 30 years old).

Through this therapy,  children who are paralyzed:

  • Begin to develop their muscles 
  • Strengthen control of functioning muscles
  • Lift their heads Start to walk
  • Move arms and legs with less pain

GWNov2015-3b-300-pxDouglas is a paralyzed young boy, who experiences many involuntary body movements. Most of the time, his mother wheels her son, buckled in his chair around the ranch. He becomes a different individual when he is riding his friend, Encantada, a large white horse. But how can a person who is paralyzed ride a horse? Douglas shows such delight on horseback. Now he has some control of his involuntary movements, through this horse therapy because this scientific method uses the muscles of the horse  to develop the corresponding muscles in the human body.

Children begin horse therapy at two years of age. The therapist places the child, lying down on a blanket on the horse’s back. As the horse moves along, she stimulates the child’s outer muscles as well as massages the child’s inner organ muscles. As the muscles get strengthened through movement, the child becomes stronger and develops balance. In this relationship with the horse, children gain confidence knowing  that another living being, a friend, is able to reduce the pain and bring healing.

Autistic children capable of relating to the horses also receive this therapy. The staff at FE has witnessed miracles, when, after several sessions, autistic children hug their fathers for the first time. The horse motivates the child to improve, and being in a farm setting helps both the child and the mothers to relax, an opportunity not often available in their lives.

GWNov2015-3-300pxThis program is part of integrated therapy using a community rehabilitation model in which  groups of mothers with their children join together for sharing sessions. Each child has a specific plan for his/her therapy. FE works with the most vulnerable families who cannot afford to pay. Since having children with disabilities entails much responsibility, Special Families considers active participation and cooperation of the mothers as a form of payment for these families who have just minimal resources. The only titled horse-therapist in Nicaragua, Gustavo Vallejos, studied at Gimbernat University in Barcelona, Spain in an education program funded by Special Families. Then, he trained Suhey Meza Vallejos, another physical therapist. Each year, the University sends groups of  at least 12 graduates in physical therapy to work at FE, as interns learning and experiencing this healing through horse therapy.

Douglas’ mother thanks God each day for Jacaranda and Encantada because they have changed her son’s life by giving him better health and more opportunities for social integration. Mothers in this small rural town in Nicaragua experience the bonding relationship between their children and the two horses, and recognize that “Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other and in service of each other.” (Pope Francis in his Encyclical, Laudato Sí, (#86), from the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxW3Jm-9Hug

Reprinted with permission from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, “Children in Nicaragua Find Hope,” Good Works, pp. 4-7, November 2015.

A New Generation of Women at Notre Dame Academy (1853-2015)

By Sister Barbara Barry, SNDdeN, alumna ’69, former NDA President (1996-2014)

The year was 1853. In Venice, Italy, Verdi’s La Traviata premiered, while in the USA, the first horse-drawn fire engine made its debut in Cincinnati, Gail Borden patented his process for condensed milk, the first potato chips were prepared, Steinway pianos were founded in New York, Antoinette Blackwell was the first woman to be ordained a minister. On Lancaster Street in Boston, Massachusetts, the Boston Academy of Notre Dame opened its doors to educate young women. Now, 162 years later, the school continues, in the tradition of our early Belgian Sisters to educate girls, from grades 7 through 12, in faith, character, and scholarship, by following St. Julie Billiart’s inspiration to “train up strong women.”

Mary-Janice-Bartolo,-SNDdeNThe original academy outgrew four campuses in Boston: Lancaster Street, Berkeley Street, the Fenway [now Emmanuel College] and Granby Street. In 1954, the Boston Academy merged with Notre Dame Academy (NDA) in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston and in 1965,the school relocated to Hingham, Massachusetts, 15 miles south of Boston. While locations changed through the years, the purpose and ideals of the school continue in programs always focused on St. Julie’s mandate: “Teach them what they need to know for life.” Academic excellence and faith formation are primary goals for all students. Graduates are well-prepared for further study at college/university level and are also well-grounded for life in faith and ethics.

NDA-Alumnae
Women: Business, Science and Environment

Throughout the years, the Sisters with lay faculty and administrators adapted the curriculum to meet the needs of the day. Early in the school’s history, when men dominated the business arena, the Academy offered business courses and trained young women to work in office settings. In years when science courses were not considered the norm for girls, the Academy offered biology, chemistry and physics. The science curriculum now includes Julie-Quoteenvironmental science courses as well as engineering and robotics. Students work with local environmental agencies to identify and register vernal pools for protection. A vegetable garden, planted on campus last year by faculty and students, yields produce for the school’s dining service. In the near future, the students and faculty hope to share vegetables with local food pantries.

A Generation of Women in Social Justice
In the 1960s, with the new directions in the Church after the Second Vatican Council, the Academy updated the religion curriculum to include social justice courses with a service component and encouraged students to question and seek the truth. Alumnae from every generation realize that the Sisters taught them for generations to find their voice as women on major social issues. Today, NDA students focus on global education and the care of the earth.

Language study is still a critical element in the curriculum, with programs in French, Spanish, Latin, and also Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language. Multi-cultural travel experiences to England, France, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, China and various parts of the United States include a service and learning component for the students. The Academy also collaborates in an international student exchange program with Notre Dame High School in Plymouth, England.

Mission and Service
Pat-Toce,-SNDdeNNDA’s greatest resource is its faculty and staff. Well-educated and committed to the Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, these women and men inspire students to stretch beyond who they are now to reach new horizons. They model life-long learning and community involvement. Service is a way of life at NDA where faculty and staff work side by side with the girls in all the service projects.

Current and prospective parents visiting the school recognize the comfortable relationship in the classes between teachers and students. Many alumnae have been and are today faculty, staff and administrators at Notre Dame Academy, as well as in other ND ministries. Also, many young women educated at these different campuses of Notre Dame Academy have entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, to carry forward the Gospel Mission in academies, parish schools, centers and to stand with the poor in varied ministries in the US and across borders, cultures and generations. Vita-MagazineFaithful to making known God’s goodness, the NDA community continues to thrive and to educate a new generation of young women to proclaim the Gospel in their daily lives and for years into the future.

View vita! – our NDA magazine at www.ndahingham.com  (About/Publications)


Source: Good Works, March 2015, pp. 10-12. Reprinted with permission. GWMarch2015.pdf(1)

In the Great Northwest

By Sister Elizabeth Tiernan, SNDdeN

Invited by the Jesuit missionary, Fr. De Smet, SJ, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur arrived from Belgium in the Pacific Northwest in 1844. ” In St. Paul, Oregon, the Sisters established a school for the daughters of the fur traders and Native Americans or mixed-blood women. The Sisters also prepared local Indian women and fur traders’ wives to receive the sacraments. The offered instruction in French and also acquired some knowledge of the Chinook language.

… “Sr. Julie Codd, CSJP,  introduced me to the native community who inspired me by their spirituality, sense of relationship with all Creation, and their belief in the power of tradition and sacred ceremonies. With Sr. Julie, I do believe that: “The Church needs the native people.”

From Good Works, March 2015, pp. 18-19. Excepts reprinted with permission.Mota Family before Mass at Chief Seattle Club

Corryville Catholic, Cincinnati, OH (USA)

Sr. Mary Ann Zwijack, SNDdeN teaches Grade 8 and spends extra time with students needing help with special projects.
Sr. Mary Ann Zwijack, SNDdeN teaches Grade 8 and spends extra time with students needing help with special projects.

Sister Marie Smith, SNDdeN, Principal (1983-2013), writes: “Located in this major Ohio city, Corryville has a diverse student body from different socio-economic communities and cultural backgrounds. A wrap-around school, connecting programs and services with specific children, Corryville uses Choices for Children, a project  to meet the needs of individual students. The school’s Mission is to educate the whole child, from pre-school through Grade 8, by meeting the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of each student.”  Learn more

Good Works, March 2015, pp. 8-9.

Shouting for Life

by Sister Betsy Mary Flynn, SNDdeN

Shouting for Life PhotoBrazil will host the World Cup in June-July 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Mega sports events increase the market for human trafficking. On January 9, 2014, The Guardian predicted increased child sex trade: Brazil’s Child Sex Trade Soars as 2014 World Cup Nears. The Church in Brazil has chosen human trafficking for the theme of the Lenten Campaign. Catholics throughout the country will study, pray and take action against human trafficking during this season.

Since 2009, religious Congregations from different countries have organized in small groups globally for education awareness, prevention, denouncement of human trafficking, and the protection of actual and potential victims. In Brazil, Sisters of Notre Dame serve with an anti-trafficking group, called Shouting for Life, known in Portuguese as Grupo Grito pela Vida. Read the rest of Sr. Betsy article: Shouting for Life

www.sndden.org | www.notredameonline.org | snddenGW.wordpress.com
Reprinted with permission. Good Works Magazine 

Beauty & Desert Poverty in Navajo Land

GoodWorks_xSt. Bonaventure Mission in Thoreau , New Mexico is located in the midst of this beauty and desert poverty. This Mission is an oasis, a special place where Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, with other caring and devoted people from all areas of the United States, minister to God’s people living in poverty. On this Navajo Land, specific ministries include providing housing for low-income families, repairing roofs, delivering water, building outhouses for those with no water, food and other much needed supplies such as blankets and clothing. Many hundreds of donors who assist us by their financial gifts provide these goods and services. Our “Outreach” department provides employment for Navajo people. The major ministry at the Mission is St. Bonaventure School, a preschool and elementary school through the 8th grade.
BeautyandDesertPovertyinNavajoLand

www.SNDdeN.org   and  www.stbonaventuremission.org

Jubilee Joy: 50 Years in Brazil

“Every day, we help adults, adolescents and children to become conscious of their dignity, particularly through Bible study and popular education.”

SNDdeNs-BrazilSisters Respond to Needs

On Marajó Island, Pará, Sr. Rita Raboin works with the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, the Land Pastoral and in community organizing.  Due to a precarious system of water delivery and waste control, Marajó’s unhealthy water supply has become a critical issue. Sr. Maria Socorro de Oliveira, returning from English study in Ohio, USA, will soon begin a new ministry among the people in Breves.

Read more:  JubileeJoy50YearsinBrazil
Lenten Theme Week One

http://www.SNDdeN.org