The Way Forward is the Way Inward

Our readers may know that the four United States provinces of the Sisters of Notre Dame are in a process of becoming one province over the next two years. Some efforts toward unification have been in the works over the past few years, but with the proximity of 2020 the efforts are intensifying. What I have found so beautiful is the peace that pervades the sisters, along with trust in those most involved in the decision-making. In this process we have had to let go, for example, the selling of our provincial center property. Paradoxically, it’s in the letting go that we can create something new.


When we gather with sisters of other provinces, there is such evident unity. We have a common vision; everyone seems to be forward-looking. What a blessing! We are open to the future, and that is why we see the present as a time of rich possibilities. We know that the heart of all life is oneness, and so we work toward oneness to let new life flourish. The way forward can only be successful by simultaneously making the way inward. As we strive for unity, readers, please join us with your prayers.

The Miracle Story of Annie the Bus Driver

On a day in April the entire student body at St. John High School, Delphos, gathered in the gym to pray for Annie, one of our associates, who had bone cancer. Because the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Sister Maria Aloysia, lived in Delphos several years, we prayed through her intercession for Annie’s complete cure. Students continued to pray for Annie, their favorite bus driver. Eventually the oncologists declared that Annie was completely free of bone cancer.

However, after 15 years, the cancer returned. This week Annie’s family and friends will celebrate her funeral and acknowledge her deep spirituality shown in her great involvement in her parish church, especially as a cantor and choir member. Annie has been an associate of the Sisters of Notre Dame since 2004.

May Annie be a great intercessor for our ND Associates
and all of us.


July 12th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


Around this time of year you may hear of priests’ anniversaries of ordination and religious sisters’ jubilees. Some religious orders mark the years from the time of entrance into the community as postulants. My congregation marks jubilee from First Vows. (The first vows a Sister makes are temporary for a few years until her Final Vows or Solemn Profession.) This year’s celebration ranged from 25 to 75 years of religious profession.

For many, the community’s celebration of jubilee is the high point of the year, whether one is a jubilarian or not. This joyful time is a time of laughter, memories, and foods beyond the typical convent fare. Above all, it’s a time of gratitude. It’s a custom in our community that when the Mass is over, the program performed, and the food cleared, that the Sisters celebrating jubilee have a chance to address the community. Whether in song or poetry or paragraph, the message of each group is the same:

Thank you.
Jubilee—a special day to thank God
and thank Notre Dame.

“Thank you” says it all.

Pray Always

July 10th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Scripture asks,
“Pray always.”

Throughout Church history there have been two major ways to follow this demand. Monastic orders make the Liturgy of the Hours top priority, while other aspects of their day (work, meals, recreation, sleep) revolve around these times of prayer. There were even times in history when monks would allow themselves  only one hour of sleep to have almost the whole day devoted to prayer. Lay persons, along with priests and sisters not living in monastic communities, follow “Pray always” by leading the best Christian lives they can while punctuating their day with prayer. Such periodic prayer can be a quick one-liner, a period of meditation, the Mass or any other “lifting of the mind and heart to God.” The two ways, of course, need to be more nuanced than this short description allows, but my point is that both are meritorious responses leading many to lead very holy lives.

Whether living in a monastery or “in the world,” all of us can aim to “pray always.” One technique is to have a “signal” reminding us to pray more often than our regular prayer. One signal I use is lifting my coffee cup when I sit to pray first thing in the morning. God and I hold our mugs like beer steins and tell each other “cheers.” Just one word, one second of time, one thought, and a smile between God and me. Often this first prayer of the day is my best prayer of the day.

Probably many of you have a sign that you know comes directly from God. Maybe it’s a butterfly that shows a deceased loved one is present. Maybe it’s a deer that reminds you of God’s great care for you.
For me, it’s a heron often seen at Lial Renewal Center in Whitehouse, Ohio. Generally I make my annual week’s retreat there, and I hope to see the heron which for me means that God approves of my direction in life. During some annual retreats I see the heron only once, and that time is usually at the end of the retreat. Its flight says to me, “All is well. Keep flying the same route.”

This summer the heron showed himself on the very first day.  As I walked toward the lake, I mused, “I wonder if I’ll see my her__.” Before I could get the last syllable out, there he was! Some hours later I saw him again, standing quite still, then walking a few steps, standing quietly, then taking a few more steps along the path around the lake that I had intended to make. I waited so as not to disturb, and then another heron joined him. Together they flew off, and I continued my trek where the heron had been.  Within a couple minutes back came the heron, and he flew parallel to me for a few seconds.  Wow! Was that ever a sign from God that this would be a wonderful retreat!

Someone recommended a book to me that she had heard recommended by Oprah Winfrey. The title?  The Sun Does Shine. It’s written by Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Although at first, he was justifiably angry for the blatant racism and his lawyer’s ineptness that convicted him—a conviction no white or wealthy person would have received—he decided that freedom resided in his soul. Hinton traveled the world in his imagination, the only way he could escape his 5-foot by 7-foot cell without windows. He started a book club for the other inmates and in other ways helped those on death row become a community. He kept up his spirit for 30 years until the day he walked out of prison as he said, “The sun does shine.” He received his freedom in 2015 from the Supreme Court of the United States. Since then he has worked to show people that capital punishment and our prison system are not the answer.

Perhaps you and I have had experiences of grave injustice, perhaps we have lost some years during which we could not use our talents, perhaps we have felt betrayed by persons who should have been our friends. Whatever those experiences, if you read Hinton’s book, they will be put into perspective. If you are still angry about those experiences, this book will show you ways to overcome the hurt.