Vision & Challenge | Spring 2014

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Vision Challenge &

A Publication of the Sisters of Notre Dame, California

Sisters of Notre Dame visit Assisi during international conference in Italy Page 6

Spring 2014 Vol. XXI No. 2

One Heart. One Hope. One Mission.


Notre Dame Center renovation slated summer 2014 In 1978 the Sisters of Notre Dame established a provincial center in the Thousand Oaks area, committing themselves to ministry throughout Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties. Today, Notre Dame Center (NDC) is home to 31 sisters and includes assisted living facilities for retired sisters. We have determined that changes need to be made to NDC to make it sustainable for the sisters’ long-term needs. After looking exhaustively at various options regarding our future housing needs, we determined that renovating our existing facility was the most cost-effective strategy for meeting those needs. By investing in our provincial center now, we will achieve significant savings per year as we care for our elderly sisters and provide adequate living arrangements for our sisters still engaged in active ministries. With the assistance of grants from the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), architects have designed a two-phase renovation. Phase one will provide for the relocation of sisters with greater care needs to the first floor, and include six bedrooms and private baths that are accessibility-compliant. The wing will also house office and service rooms, a community room and a small chapel. This relocation 2


will provide our sisters with easier access to dining, the large chapel, the outdoors, vehicles and emergency exits. Phase two will convert the former health care center on the second floor to eight private bedrooms and baths, a small kitchenette, workroom, exercise room

and storage. The total cost of the renovation is projected at $1.3 million. We are blessed to have several planned giving donors whose gifts will partially offset the construction costs. In addition, we received an implementation grant from the NRRO. We include our

friends and benefactors in our prayers for their generosity in helping us to meet our needs. Our hope is that you will join us in making this project successful. Your donation to our renovation fund will help ensure the comfort and care of our sisters for decades to come.


Top left, Sister Mary Francelia Klingshirn poses with a shovel at the groundbreaking of Notre Dame Center in Thousand Oaks in 1978. Top right (from left) Sisters Mary Karlynn Werth, Mary Sheila Fay, Mary Anncarla Costello and Mary Francelia Klingshirn look over renovation plans. Opposite, plans for the first floor provided by Lauterbach and Associates Architects, Inc. Below, plans for the second floor.

Expected Costs Construction and Renovation $1,000,000

Architecture and Engineering $150,000 Fixtures, Furniture and Equipment $120,000 Contingencies $30,000

For more information on naming opportunities and how to get involved, please contact Director of Mission Advancement, Christiana Thomas at or (805) 917-3714. SPRING 2014


Letter from the Editor Spreading the Fire. It’s a small Dear book, but the stories contained in its Readers,, pages are quietly beautiful.

Last week, I heard a lovely story about one of our sisters. Every year of her teaching career, Sister Mary Veronese Good wrote down the name of each child in her third-grade classroom. Some years, the list seemed impossibly long – as many as 78 children in a single class. During her 50 years of work in the classroom, Sister added thousands of names to that list. Every day she would pray for each of her former students, quietly spreading the fire of God’s love through her dedication to each of them. In August, we celebrate 90 years of ministry in Southern California – a ministry that has touched hundreds of thousands of lives. Today we still have some sisters like Sister Mary Veronese who teach in the classroom, but our ministries have expanded to include hospitals, parishes and international service. On page eight of this issue, we celebrate Sisters of Notre Dame who illuminate God’s love through their works of art. These sisters use art as another way to spread the fire to all they encounter. We hope you will be as moved by their craft as we are. Thank you for continuing to support our diverse ministries. Please know that the sisters keep your intentions close to their hearts. Spreading the Fire The Story of the Sisters of Notre Dame in California is available in paperback at Sincerely,

Christiana Thomas Director of Mission Advancement

Vision Challenge &

Vision & Challenge is published tri-annually by the Sisters of Notre Dame, California Province’s Office of Mission Advancement. Founded by Hilligonde Wolbring in Coesfeld, Germany, in 1850, the Sisters of Notre Dame are an international congregation of women religious who serve the Church in seventeen countries on six continents. The Sisters of Notre Dame have ministered in California for almost nintey years, bringing hope to the world through catechesis, pastoral ministry, education, health care, social ministries and missionary activity. For more information, visit Vision & Challenge Editorial Team Sister Mary Anncarla Costello Christiana Thomas Chloe Vieira Anne Interrante Sister Mary Regina Robbins Sister Betty Mae Bienlein Sister Mary Josanne Furey Sister Mary Rebekah Kennedy Sister Mary Francelia Klingshirn Sister Mary Antonine Manning Sister Mary Joan Schlotfeldt

Provincial Superior Director of Mission Advancement Communications Manager Administrative Associate SND SND SND SND SND SND SND

Contributors Sister Mary Lisa Megaffin Sister Valerie Marie Roxburgh Sister Cristina Marie Buczkowski Mayra Martinez Frederick A. Kesich

SND SND SND SND Saint David’s ‘68

Printing Gordon Bowers Printing Westlake Village, California Printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks.


Catholic Central Young adult worship nights with the Sisters of Notre Dame

ayra Martinez is standing on the steps of Saint Mary Magdalen Church in Camarillo, California, on a Saturday evening, talking and laughing with a group of young adults who seem at ease in her company. “I want to be a face for religious life today,” she says, “Before I met the Sisters of Notre Dame, I had an image of what a sister was that wasn’t real; it was based on things I’d seen on television. After getting to know them I realized that they’re very real people. They’ve been a gift to me, and they’ve helped me build my relationship with God and bring me to my ultimate fulfillment.” Mayra, age 35, recently began her first year as a postulant with the Sisters of Notre Dame, which is the first step in the nine-year process of becoming a sister. She wants to support young adults the same way the sisters have supported her. “When you deepen your relationship with God, He will help you find your true vocation, wherever that is – marriage, religious life, or single life,” Mayra said. The young adults around her have gathered for Catholic Central, a monthly worship group she helps to lead. The evening starts off with a talk by Brother Eric Pilarcik, vocation director for the Franciscans at Mission Santa Barbara. Then the group moves into adoration and confession. They can also take advantage of one-on-one spiritual direction with Sisters Mary Leanne Hubbard and Mary Luellen Boeglin. Afterward, they have fellowship time and later they walk to a local restaurant for an “after-party” of sorts. When most youth groups have long since gone to bed, the Catholic Central group is still up enjoying each other’s company late into the night. “Catholic Central creates a sacred space,” Mayra says, “Our speakers provide the catechesis that the young adults need, confession lets them reconcile with God, and adoration allows them to sit with God and continue to build a relationship with Him.” Mayra does her best to fulfill the needs of the young adults she works with.“I can sense that a lot of them want to know God’s will and how to talk and listen to him. They are able to talk about Him among their church friends, but they want to know how to bring Him into other areas of life,” she said. For information on upcoming Catholic Central nights, visit




United in Friendship Continued from front cover... To celebrate the theme “Missioned to incarnate the love of our good and provident God,” the Sisters of Notre Dame participate in conferences to renew the spirituality of their congregation. Such gatherings bring together sisters from all over the world who, despite their different languages and cultures, are connected by a common mission. As each group arrives at the Motherhouse in Rome, Italy, sisters come out to greet the new arrivals (pictured above). They share enthusiasm for renewing their lasting, international friendships. During one such conference in September of 2013, Sisters Mary Kathleen Burns and Mary Luellen Boeglin joined sisters in Coesfeld, Germany, for a month-long spiritual renewal experience at the birthplace of the Sisters of Notre Dame. The renewal experience was developed by the General Council 6


and Sister Mary Kathleen of the California province. Within the next couple of years all Sisters of Notre Dame throughout the world will experience the renewal in their home provinces and in their native languages. Sisters Mary Kathleen and Mary Regina Robbins participated in the International Formation Conference held in December of 2013 in the Motherhouse in Rome. Formation directors came to re-energize their ministries which help new members know and live their charism, spirit and mission. The formation directors experienced the renewal program as well. The sisters also took time to enjoy several outings together including a trip to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City for an audience with Pope Francis and all-day pilgrimage to Assisi to take in the amazing story of Saint Francis. All such gatherings revitalize the active apostolic vocation of each Sister of Notre Dame as they are called to further the global transformation of our world today.

Remembering Sister Mary Immaculette Sister Mary Immaculette Moose passed away on August 21, 2012. This letter was written by a former student of hers. Sister Mary Immaculette was our teacher at Saint David’s school in Richmond, California. We were a class of 16 students at a brand new school. Most of us came from the public school system. The Sisters of Notre Dame arrived in 1963 and proceeded to develop a tradition of faith and education with us young kids. Sister was there when Father Pasqual entered our classroom in November of 1963 to tell us that the President had been shot. We said a quick prayer and processed as a student body to Saint David’s Church where Father Murry and Father Pasqual led us in the Rosary. On the way to the church, one of the lay staff of the school ran to the front of the procession where Sister Mary Immaculette was and said to the sisters, “It’s because the President was a Catholic.” I and other fourth graders overheard this and we became very scared. Sister Mary Immaculette comforted us and told us to

be brave and to have faith. She told us not to believe such things and to think of the best, not the worst. That moment stuck with me. In our short time together, I saw that small-in-stature woman control very large and powerful adversaries, both young and old. I also witnessed her sharing the faith with fifteen of my classmates. One time, when one of us brought an inappropriate record album to school (the Beetles Rubber Soul, 1965) Sister saw us passing it around and asked us to stop. We didn’t, and she promptly tossed the record out the window where it landed on a slope covered with ice plants. We all got to watch the record warp in the California sun as class went on. Our lesson for that day was learned. During one Christmas season, the students assembled in the entrance of Saint David’s to light a candle on the Advent wreath hanging from the ceiling. All were assembled, but I was at the other end of the school

hall. I had a camera to take pictures of the event. Sister called for me to hurry up so the candle lighting and singing could start. I complied and started to run down the darkened hall toward her, the assembled classmates and the Advent wreath. As I hit my stride, the flashbulbs in my pants pocket all ignited at once due to the static electricity generated from my wool uniform pants. My right front pocket lit up for a second like the rising sun as twelve small flash bulbs flashed at once. A flame shot out of my pocket and I hit the ground, trying to empty my pocket of the hot melted mess and beating on my leg as I tried to put out the fire. Sister Mary Immaculette crossed herself, looked perplexed, then looked toward the heavens as if to ask, “Why me?” and proceeded to pick me up and ask me if I was OK. I had thought she would yell at me for causing such a fuss, but instead she gave love.

She is the reason I have had a successful life. She saw a wild fourth grader, looked me in the eye and told me that I was going to change my ways, and I did. At first I picked weeds and worked on Saturday mornings at the sisters’ residence at Saint David’s to make up for some unacceptable behavior on my part. Later, I did it because I wanted to, because of how the sisters made me feel like they were my family and vice versa. Sister Mary Immaculette connected with her students in a special way. She taught me the Catechism, the Latin Mass, and most importantly, how to strive to do the right thing. Thank you sisters, and Sister Mary Immaculette, for those wonderful memories and teachings. I know she is in Heaven with our Lord. I also know that we were much the better for being her students.

Yours in Christ, Frederick A. Kesich Saint David’s 1963-1968

COLORFull Prayer LIfe


isters of Notre Dame spend a lot of time each day in contemplation and prayer. We often assume that those long hours are quiet, solemn and serious. We imagine that the sisters always know what to pray for and how to say it. But more often than not, the prayer lives of sisters are colorful. They struggle to find the right words and are constantly searching for new forms of praise. In the pages that follow, six Sisters of Notre Dame describe their creative prayer lives, and how they use their unique artistic gifts to glorify God in prayer.

Sister Mary Leanne W

hen the chaos of life makes it hard to focus on prayer, Sister Mary Leanne Hubbard turns to the mandala. A mandala, which means circle, is a spiritual symbol used in many religious traditions to aid in meditation or prayer. Sister begins by drawing a circle, and then fills it in with colors and forms that come to her while she prays. “I love the mandala because it is manageable, only eight inches in diameter, not even a full page,” said Sister Mary Leanne. She has been drawing for as long as she can remember, and has had no formal training outside of a few art classes. “Art has always been important to my spirituality,” she explained. As a child growing up in Europe, she took an interest in religious art and enjoyed reading about the lives of the saints. Now, she usually works in pen and ink. Her

designs have been featured on many prayer cards and worship aids used by her congregation. “What I have learned through praying with mandalas is that what feels very messy and unfinished on the inside often looks a lot more balanced and beautiful when it is objectified in form and color,” she said. To see Sister Leanne’s artwork and to learn how to use the mandala in your own prayer life, visit her website at

Sister Valerie Marie

people keep very M ost still while they pray.

They fold up their hands and tuck their heads down, but Sister Valerie Marie Roxburgh would

rather do the opposite. She uses dance to express her faith. “I’ve loved to dance from a very early age. I started taking ballet lessons when I was seven years old,” she said. As an adult, Sister choreographs liturgical dances performed during Masses and leads yoga classes at retreats. Sister also taught a weekly yoga class called Body and Soul to women at Saint Cornelius Parish in Long Beach, California.

Her class combined yoga, prayer, stretching and basic ballet barre exercises. Sister knows it takes some freedom from inhibitions to incorporate movement with prayer. She says once her students step over the threshold of self-consciousness, they can really begin an encounter with God. Many students are nervous at first, especially those with no dance experience. “People are worried that others are watching

them,” she said, “But then they realize it can be an enriching, different experience of prayer. You have to think ‘Nobody is looking at me, and this is between me and God.’” Sister likes to use dance as a form of praise that involves the mind, body and spirit. “Allow yourself the freedom to explore different ways to pray by tapping into the creative gifts God gave you, whatever they may be,” she said.

Sister Mary Domnic

Mary Domnic S ister Jones started sewing because she had to.

The summer before she started fifth grade, her mother took a hand-medown school uniform and taught Sister Mary Domnic how to alter the plaid skirt to fit her because the family could not afford to buy her a new one. Much later, after she became a Sister of Notre Dame in 1971, she was tasked with making and mending habits in the

sewing room. She was put in charge of sewing for the sisters in the 1980’s and made her first quilt during that time. “My mom started buying quilting books for me and I became intrigued by the different block patters and the history behind them,” she said. Sister Mary Domnic has lovingly made quilts for several of her family members and

friends, including former Superior General Sister Mary Sujita and her own great grand niece, Victoria Rose. “I plan each quilt with that specific person in mind,” she said, “Then while I work I hold the person in prayer. I ask God to wrap them in the blanket of his love and let them always feel the warmth of his presence.”

Sister Mary Emilie Ann


ach time Sister Mary Emilie Ann Palladino sits down

to write, she likes to use a No. 2 pencil. “It allows the words to flow, without the need for exerting too much pressure,” she said “Writing with a pencil reflects life: impermanent and fragile.” She has written everything from charitable grants and teacher guides to spiritual journals, retreats and prayer services. Art appreciation runs

in Sister’s family, and she remembers visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art with her mother and father when she was a child. Being exposed to many styles and mediums of art impressed Sister Mary Emilie Ann and left her feeling grateful for the many interpretations of God’s creation. “It’s awesome to realize that God gives us the gift

of assembling words which inspire, challenge and help readers to experience the unique love God has for them,” she said. Sister uses writing to practice discipline and attention to detail as well. She advises other writers to keep their eyes and hearts open to their surroundings, so they can see and hear the Lord’s ongoing creation in everything and everyone.


Sister Florette Marie

said that when I tweis often sing, we pray twice. Sister Florette Marie Adams is always singing. She sings while she walks from place to place and

she uses music in her daily ministry as well as in her personal prayer life. Sister also plays the piano, flute, violin, organ and guitar. “I have always believed

that music can be experienced, learned and enjoyed by anyone, old or young,” she said. Since she became a Sister of Notre Dame in 1960, she has introduced music to people of all ages and ability levels. One of her first volunteer ministries took place at Saint Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where she led music and prayer sessions for adults with serious psychological issues. Later on, she worked at the Los Angeles Ministry Project (LAMP) helping toddlers and their Spanishspeaking parents explore music and dance together.

Sister also volunteered at the Florence Crittenton Center for pregnant and parenting teens, where she introduced new mothers to the positive influence of music on early childhood development. Then, in 2012, Sister spent six weeks in Uganda, Africa, where she taught music lessons to small children using puppets and books. Today, Sister teaches music to pre-schoolers and kindergartners at Saint Dominic’s School in Eagle Rock, California. “I am a firm believer that anything can be learned through music,” she said.

Sister Mary Joyanne

Mary Joyanne S ister Sullivan has been

teaching herself to paint for twelve years. “I started a senior ministry at Sacred Heart Church in Ventura, and a retired lady there was an art teacher at a local college. 10


She asked me to paint with her during my lunchtimes and that got me hooked. I’ve been painting ever since then,” Sister Mary Joyanne said. Sister works mainly in oil paint and enjoys doing landscapes and still lifes. Saint Dominic’s Church in Eagle Rock has put on a solo exhibit featuring Sister Mary Joyanne’s work for five consecutive years. This year she moved the show to the convent. “I’ve been very successful in my one-woman show. I sell quite a few paintings,” Sister Mary Joyanne said. The proceeds from the sales of her work help support the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Sister uses photos from places she’s been for inspiration in her paintings. Her most popular pieces feature Pasadena’s local landmarks including the Colorado Street Bridge and the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens. “I tease people and say I do it for my mental health,” Sister said. “When I paint I put on music and get lost in the painting. Especially if it has something to do with nature, you really get in tune with the beauty of what God has created and that centers me; it’s very calming.” Sister Mary Joyanne became a Sister of Notre Dame in 1963. She

currently lives in Saint Dominic’s convent in Eagle Rock where she is the catechetical leader for her parish. She takes care of the religious education program and handles the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, adult confirmation and baptismal interviews.


Saint Julie Billiart Parish Partners in Uganda Mission Members of Saint Julie Billiart Church in Newbury Park, California, recently donated $10,200 toward the purchase of a vehicle for the sisters’ mission in Uganda, East Africa, where the sisters have established four schools. The Sisters of Notre Dame in Covington, Kentucky, who cosponsor the mission, had raised nearly enough to purchase the vehicle. The donation from Saint Julie Church made their goal possible. Saint Julie Church has generously supported the mission in Uganda since 2007, when members of the congregation approached Deacon Dave Smith, pastor’s assistant in charge of faith formation at Saint Julie Church, about taking on a service project abroad. They decided to collaborate with the Sisters of Notre Dame to provide education to the people of the Kibalee district in Uganda, Africa, where the sisters have served for almost 20 years. A small group from Saint Julie Church traveled to Uganda in 2008. During their stay they helped build a dormitory and installed electrical wiring in buildings and classrooms. The volunteers were inspired by what they saw in Uganda and have held a

Deacon Dave Smith (fourth from left) and members of Saint Julie Billiart Church in Newbury Park accept a gift from the sisters. Below, sisters in Uganda, Africa, wave goodbye to travelers.

collection for the mission every year since, raising a cumulative $65,000. “Any time we help someone, if we’re doing it for the right reason, God gives us His grace,” said Deacon Smith. He added that charitable work is a huge part of Saint Julie Church. “It’s a way for families to do some of the work that God asked us to do in the Gospel. We will continue to do those things as long as we have the energy,” he said. In 2008, Deacon Smith’s son, Nicholas Smith, approached thenprovincial superior Sister Mary Kristin Battles about starting a micro finance project in Uganda. He founded the Buseesa Community Development

Center (BCDC) in 2009. Since then BCDC has given out about $140,000 in loans to almost 500 people, according to their website. The sisters currently have one Land Cruiser and one pickup truck they use to make the four-hour drive to Kampala for supplies, or to take a sick student to the nearest hospital, which is

an hour away by car. “Saint Julie once told her sisters to have hearts as wide as the world,” said provincial superior Sister Mary Anncarla Costello. “Our friends and benefactors at Saint Julie Billiart Church have such hearts. We are continually grateful for their support of our mission.” SPRING 2014


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The California Grapevine • Notre Dame Learning Center Preschool in Thousand Oaks received a positive evaluation from the State of California Health and Human Services Agency after an unscheduled inspection in January. • Sister Mary Anita Hornack passed away on March 22 at the age of 99. • Sister Anna Maria Vasquez’s father passed away in March. • In April, the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) received the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Sisters of Notre Dame are proud to have worked with CAST for several years. • Sister Mary Judeen Julier was one of 18 employees of California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles who received the Humankindness Award on April 2. The award was given to employees who embody the Dignity Health brand “Hello Humankindness” and go the extra mile for

patients, their families, physicians and other staff who make an impact on health and healing. • On April 9 Sister Mary Rosaria Park completed her certification as a caregiver through the Conejo Valley Adult Education Program. • Sister Valerie Marie Roxburgh will travel to New York on May 14 to lead a Justice Pilgrimage for women. Sister Mary Grace Leung will join the group during her visit with family. • Sister Mary Leanne Hubbard will graduate from Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo with a Master’s in Theology on May 15. • The Mission Advancement Office would like to thank the following donors for their generous gifts. Their names were omitted from the winter 2014 issue of Vision & Challenge by mistake. Joann Benson Carol Gilbert Mary and Richard Harris