Tag Archives: Good Works Magazine

Gathering the Stones: Story in Maceió, Brazil

By Sisters Lucyane Ribeiro Diniz, Betsy Mary Flynn & Mary Alice McCabe, SNDdeN

Since 1985, Maceió, located in Itapipoca, Ceará, Northeast in Brazil, has been an Agrarian Reform Settlement. It comprises 5,000 acres of arable lands, coconut tree plantations, sand dunes, lakes, streams and virgin beaches.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) have been in Maceió since the 1970s. For generations, local fishermen, farmers, lace makers and algae gatherers have occupied and cultivated the land and sea providing them with all they need to sustain a simple lifestyle.

The people gathered in secret under the trees, as they prayed for land lights and discussed liberation from landlords.
The people gathered in secret under the trees, as they prayed for land lights and discussed liberation from landlords.

These courageous and faith-filled people have faced numerous challenges over the years. The first and most significant was their historical struggle for land rights during the early 1980’s. They call this time of unity their Holy or Sacred Resistance, when they liberated their land from unjust and illegal “landlords.”

The generation that lived through this oppression asks to preserve this story and pass it on to their grandchildren; “…so that they will remember that we, their grandparents, faced a very difficult challenge, a sacred struggle, so that today they can live on free land, and appreciate how this land was liberated…”

The people recall how they met together to study the story of Moses and the Israelites in the Bible: “We discovered that the people of God… lived the same kind of slavery and oppression that we were living… and finally liberated themselves. And we discovered that we, as a people of God, must imitate their struggle for liberation.”

They reflect on the Book of Joshua and how the People of God… passed on their story of struggle to future generations. The 12 tribes of Israel cross the River Jordan, with dry feet; Joshua orders one person from each tribe to carry and place one stone with the other stones, on the other side of the river.

“Why these stones for Maceió? To remember and tell your children that you gathered these stones and carried them over the river, with dry feet in order to recall the hand of Yahweh as he led you… to a new, free land.”

In those days, they did not write or record. So the stones were the way to remember. We, today, have paper, pens and recorders, our stones… they can tell our story.

Sisters Collaborate with People
The challenge in this book is to “gather the stones.” Sr. Mary Alice McCabe, SNDdeN has organized an Oral History based on 60 interviews, in Gathering the Stones: Maceió’s Story of Resistance – A Story of Faith.
In Maceió settlement since the 1980’s, Sr. Mary Alice has compiled the stories of resistance and victory told by the people themselves.

In thirteen chapters, the people describe their lives as veritable slaves under the domination of local tyrannical landlords.

They discover in the Bible the God of the oppressed who gives them courage to confront injustice and transform the land and their lives.

They tell about their struggles to live according to collective values on the newly liberated land. Twelve interviews are a study on collective values, contributed by Sisters Lorraine Connell and Ellen Dabrieo, SNDdeN after these Sisters had spent several months with the people in 1993. Sr. Betsy Flynn, SNDdeN, also serving in Maceió for many years, photographed many significant moments in gathering precious stones for this story.

Youth Ministry Today
Sr. Lucyane Ribeiro Diniz, SND, (Lu) is currently developing a dynamic mission with the youth, where through theatre, music and art, they are discovering new ways of recapturing key “stones” of Maceió’s story.

Sr. Lucyane with the children.
Sr. Lucyane with the children.

Sr. Lucyane says: “It is always a challenge to pass on the story of a people to future generations. Our Theatre Group, Seeds of Art, is producing a play based on Maceió’s story of resistance and faith. Our goal is not only to gather the stones but also to inspire the new generation to continue the work of liberation and transformation begun by their ancestors.”


Source: Good Works, June 2015, pp. 18-19. GWJune2015

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)

The Vision Unfolds

by Sister Carol Shoup, SNDdeN

Manley Hall, built in 2002, replaced the O'Connor Mansion, deemed structurally unsafe after the 1989 earthquake.
Manley Hall, built in 2002, replaced the O’Connor Mansion, deemed structurally unsafe after the 1989 earthquake.

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Notre Dame High School, San Jose, CA is a part of another story which began over 170 years ago at the port of Antwerp in Belgium. Having waited for weeks for the winds to propel l’Infatigable, six Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) set sail for the faraway land of Oregon. In 1844, they opened a small mission in the Willamette Valley for children of the Chinook tribes and early settlers. The Oregon mission, however, met innumerable challenges and closed when the Sisters accepted an invitation to found a mission in California where needs were growing faster in the capital of San Jose.

CHALLENGES IN SAN JOSE
In 1851, the Sisters established a college and a day school on Santa Clara Street with 180 Catholic and 75 non-Catholic students of Native American and European families. With donations from clergy and city leaders, the Notre Dame schools grew along this “avenue of willows.” In 1927, the day school moved to the O’Connor Mansion and became the current Notre Dame High School, San Jose (NDSJ) and the college moved north to Belmont.

Sr. Carol and NDSJ students celebrate Catholic Schools' Week in St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Jose, CA.
Sr. Carol and NDSJ students celebrate Catholic Schools’ Week in St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Jose, CA.

As the oldest all-girls’ high school west of the Mississippi, NDSJ, rich in tradition, flourished through two centuries with the help of many individuals who supported the SNDdeN Mission. Yet the years were not without challenge and risk-taking. With the necessary removal of the O’Connor Mansion in 2002, the future of NDSJ required the same courage and determination found in our early Sisters. The faculty and staff imagined and planned for a multi-cultural learning community in an urban landscape. With vision and funding provided by friends and benefactors, Manley Hall, a new building, became a reality in October 2002 and gave impetus to a renewed vision for young women in the 21st century.

Learn more  |   Good Works, March 2015  |  Notre Dame High School, San Jose, CA