Celebrate Life!

January 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Today as we commemorate the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I’m reminded of the many people in our country and world who work and pray to withhold the value of life.

Three of our Sisters (Sister Mary Jo Szpila, Sister Linda Maria Pelagio and Sister Jan Marie Lonsway) minister at Path to Life Hope Home here in Toledo.  Their mission is clear:

Path to Life is an interfaith, life-affirming non-profit organization.

Believing in the sanctity and dignity of each human life, from conception to natural death, our mission is to provide alternatives that protect the inherent right to life of the unborn and empower single pregnant women who lack the resources and support to cope with their unexpected pregnancies.It is our goal to provide a safe and nurturing environment that is non-judgmental and emotionally and spiritually supportive for pregnant women in need.

Our maternity housing is a great option for expectant mothers ages 18 and over who wish to make a decision regarding their future as well as the future of their unborn child, without the pressure that can come from friends and family who may not be supportive.

I am so proud of our Sisters and the many volunteers and donors who support this much needed ministry.  Their efforts help to make it possible for women to choose to support life rather than end it.

Check out their new electronic newsletter at http:www.path2life.org/newsletter  to read more about this ministry. 

Dear Fellow Heirs of the Kingdom,

            I bet you never received a letter with that greeting!
But that is what we are —heirs of the Kingdom.  We’re royalty; we’re princes and princesses in the Kingdom of God. And that’s not far away in a distant heaven. It’s right here, right now. The Kingdom of God is a code word, you might say, for God. God is everywhere, so the Kingdom is everywhere. Don’t look now, but it’s sitting there on your shoulder, and there it is inside you, and in front of you and behind you. What can we do today to make the Kingdom of God more visible in our midst?

This morning Andy was beaming with expectation about the trip to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life.  While working in the pro-life movement is something he’s involved in, it’s much deeper. You can sense his passion. He’s fully engaged in whatever he can do to be a voice for the unborn.

There’s a difference between involvement and engagement.  Certainly we want more persons to be involved in pro-life activities, but the most effective people are those who are fully engaged.

Engagement is what I FEEL. It’s a strong emotional connection. It’s the feeling I get when I’m doing what I do best, using my greatest talents and passions. Even if it’s work or service, it seems a whole lot more like joy–like the huge smile on Andy’s face.

Gallup research has shown that those who are permitted to do what they do BEST are nearly three times more likely to be engaged. Not any job will do. While involvement may lead to burnout, engagement makes me stronger, more energized, and all the more engaged. Don’t let a week go by without being fully engaged in something you’re passionate about.

 What are your talents and strengths?

What do you love to do?

If time and money were no object, what would you do for God?

What will you do this week that solicits your full engagement?

Miraculous Ordinary Days

January 14th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

As we begin “Ordinary Time” in the Church year today, I’m reminded of a question one of the sixth grade students at Maumee, St. Joseph asked last week of four of us on a vocation panel: “Have you ever experienced any miracles?”  Each of us responded by talking about the miracle of each day of our lives – the care of our loving God, the amazing relationships we’ve witnessed in others, and most especially the Eucharist.

There are so many miracles surrounding us if we only open our eyes and hearts and take them in.  Considering the awesome and unbelievable love our God has  for us, I’m not sure it’s possible to actually have an “ordinary” day!  Our faith draws us into a world filled with daily miracles.

What miracle have you experienced in the last 24 hours?

A Double-header

January 10th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of our foundress, Sister Maria Aloysia, and today we celebrate the birthday of our co-foundress, Sister Maria Ignatia.  These two women are amazing examples of all that God can do in and through the lives of people who live with an open heart.  Responding to the needs of poor and neglected children and infirm elderly in the 1850’s, they planted the seeds of a congregation that has grown to nearly 2300 Sisters in countries around the world. Little did Sister Maria Aloysia know when she shared a sandwich with a hungry student that God would use her to proclaim His goodness and loving care to the world!

I’m so grateful and proud to be part of this wonderful community!  If you or someone you know is experiencing God tugging at your heart, don’t hesitate to contact us. I can guarantee you that if this is where God is calling you, we have a place for you in this adventure of making the world a better place. Learn more about our international congregation at www.snd1.org and our Toledo province at www.toledosnd.org  .

…And join us in celebrating life today!

Holy Leisure

January 7th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Susan Maria Kusz in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

I’m “into” the pillars of Benedictine spirituality lately!  This Sunday morning — how appropriate for a Sunday — I reflected on “holy leisure” as one of these pillars.  Joan Chittister, OSB says this:  “Leisure is the Benedictine gift of regular reflection and continual consciousness of the presence of God.  It is the gift of contemplation in a world of action.  Holy leisure is a necessary respite from a wildly moving world that turns incessantly now on technology that grants neither the space nor the time it takes to think.”

So how do we today develop a culture of Sabbath body, mind, and spirit amidst all the flurry around us?

Today is Epiphany, the feast of “Little Christmas,” though our world largely moved on from the mystery of the Incarnation already on Dec. 26!  But as a pastor in Santa Fe reminded us last night, “It is STILL the Christmas season!”  How do we as Christians cultivate a mindset that appreciates a more contemplative spirit, holy leisure, amidst the fast pace of our times?

It’s Sunday … I’m hoping all who read these blog posts by our Sisters took some extra time to rest, relax, and reflect today.  Perhaps this is a great New Year’s resolution:  to cultivate the Sabbath … to find a good book and dig deep this year … to reflect with others on what you read together … to just take time to “be” in the presence of God, growing in God-consciousness.

Before you lay your head to rest tonight, ponder this:  how did I grow in mindfulness today? 

Creative Work

January 5th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Susan Maria Kusz in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

I am a consummate football fan.  I am a devoted Oregon Ducks fan.  Watching them “play their little hearts out” on Thursday night as they raced across the field and exhausted their opponent

The work of our hands

brought me immense delight.  Keep those Ducks quackin,’ I kept thinking!

One of the pillars of Benedictine spirituality is creative work.  I often think that when we work in a manner that brings us joy, that pushes drudgery aside and enters into the mystery of creativity, that we are closest to the one attribute we can “for sure” assign to God:  Creator!  To participate in work is to participate in the very act of God!  It is to be “creator” … it is to be close to God.  As Barbara Cawthorne Crafton puts it, “…work ennobles us by allowing us to experience something of what God knows in creating the universe and in creating us.” 

In this sense, there is no menial task.  All is holy.  Today while doing some Saturday housecleaning, I am trying to be mindful of that.  Dusting … vacuuming … organizing … washing … all is holy.  I’m mindful of people who are ill or elderly or in prison and unable to engage in such tasks. I have the privilege of looking upon these mundane tasks as holy ritual, as a chance to be creative and mindful.

And I think of my Oregon Ducks … engaged in their creative work, “playing their little hearts out” with their eyes on the prize.  Can I too look at my daily work in the sense of “playing my little heart out” with joy and with my eyes on the prize?  It won’t be a trophy to set on a shelf; rather it will be being so close to God that I too am “creator”, participating in the work of building up the human community.  Fancy footwork, glorious passes, and right-on receptions can be creative work on the field.  Housecleaning, extending hospitality to our guests, planning and giving retreats, meeting the needs of those on staff:  these are my creative work.

May all our work this weekend be done in Benedict’s words:  That in all things God may be glorified!


As we celebrate today the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, many thoughts come to mind.  I often think of St. Elizabeth in terms of beginning the Catholic School system in our country, and rightly so, but something different strikes me today. As I read a little about her life this morning, I was struck by the profound impact her friends had on her.  After the death of her husband, it was the care and concern of her friends in Italy who led her to embrace the Catholic faith.  Something about the way they lived drew her to desire such active faith in her own life.

Upon further reflection, perhaps this is what education is all about. We work with individuals to help them grow in their desire to be their best selves. When I think about the educators in my own life who had the most influence on me, it was those who influenced my desires and set me on a path of discovering those desires.  Some of this happened in a formal classroom setting and some happened in the “classroom of life.”

Who are the educators in your life who have influenced your desires, calling forth the very best in you?


January 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (6 Comments)

Wow!  This is what I find myself saying today as we celebrate with our dear Sister Mary Clarone her 80th jubilee of profession.  That’s right, I said 80!  Eighty years of commitment to a vocation as a Sister of Notre Dame!  Wow!

Sister Mary Clarone has done some pretty amazing things over these 80 years, but I am most grateful for her generous and faithful response to a call that God planted deep in her heart so many years ago.  Our celebration today is more about who she is and who God is than what she has done.  She lives so well our charism of a deep experience of God’s goodness and provident care.  She could not have known 80 years ago where her response would take her, but she did know and trust that God would be with her every step of the way.

So, today we celebrate with you, Sister Mary Clarone and rejoice in your life that proclaims “God is good. God is very, very good!”

A Light in the Darkness

December 29th, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

What an amazing combination of life and death this week has been!  Once again this year, I find myself a bit jarred by the contrasting feasts of the Church.  It seems we just begin to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s birth and we’re abruptly drawn into the feasts of Stephen, the Holy Innocents and Thomas Becket.  A part of me is crying, “Just let me enjoy the peace and joy of Christmas!”

Reflecting on this reality this morning, I am reminded of a basic art principle I learned in my early days of teaching:  the darker the color of a bulletin board’s background, the more brilliant the colors of the letters and pictures appeared. I quickly learned that the most vibrant bulletin boards often had a black background! 

Perhaps it takes these feasts of the Church that highlight death and sacrifice to help me truly see the gift of life and appreciate its radiant beauty.  Joy that comes easily doesn’t seem to hold the same depth and meaning as that which comes at a price.  Sometimes it just takes a while for me to appreciate the darkness that serves to highlight the light!