By Associate Rosemarie Craven
On Saturday morning, March 16, twelve School Sisters of Notre Dame, twelve SSND associates, and ten “interested” women gathered at Notre Dame Convent in Waterdown, to share each others company and to learn and enjoy hearing about the joys and struggles that shaped the spirit of a valiant foundress.
Sisters Louise Vanderploeg, Delia Calis, Gloria Seifried, and Joyce Lorentz brought to life, by reading aloud, several chronologic excerpts from Foundress Mother Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger ‘s Letters.
These historical letters, written to church officials, bishops, clergy, royals, and her own “Armen Schule Schwestern” (poor school sisters, as the SSND were named in the early to mid 1800s), made evident the constant and seemingly insurmountable challenges that faced her at every turn of the journey - the journey to provide and make accessible the education (an education grounded in her own Gospel values of poverty, love, trust, prayer and mission) to young girls - not only the urbanized and wealthy, but also, the poor and marginalized of rural society.
Reading these letters proved Blessed Theresa to be a woman of vision, courage, wisdom, prudence and enduring faith - always trusting that God’s will would prevail - even in the face of constant threat and risk from political, cultural, and sociological influences - each and all of which were battling for power and the control over the education supplied by “Die Armen Schule Schwestern.”
Then, following the presentation and happily celebrating Eucharist, everyone continued sharing lively conversations in the NDC dining room and making new friends.
After lunch, Sister Harriet Schnurr led a chronologic and descriptive path of the emerging growth of this special relationship between sisters and interested faith-filled laypersons.
Some personal testimonials of associates and sisters who had served on team from the early 1980s to 2013, in addition to the review of the interesting results tabulated from the very recent AM Associates survey, sparked further interest and questions.
We knew associates in western Canada were with us in spirit each time we glanced at the table filled with radiantly beautiful prayer shawls, made by loving hands, for the sisters in continuing-care.
All in all, the day was a perfect recipe for a soul-searching and grace-filled day!
How very blessed we all are to be “together in doing what Jesus tells us.”