Emmanuel College Celebrates Founders’ Week
February 18, 2009
During the first week of February, Emmanuel College celebrated Founders’ Week, sponsored by the Center for Mission and Spirituality and coordinated by the Director of the Center, Sister Mary Johnson, SND. The theme of the week-long celebration was “Educating for Life” and included prayer services, speakers, and films emphasizing the mission and vision of the College.
On February 5th the Emmanuel College community gathered in the Janet M. Daley Library Lecture Hall to celebrate Founders’ Day with special guest speaker Sister Margaret Mullholland, SND, Education Liaison for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. As Education Liaison, Sister Margaret provides a link between all SND learning communities in nearly 20 countries. She taught for 29 years in inner-city London and was the head teacher in a school where 22 different languages were spoken in her last year before retiring.
This was the College’s 17th Annual Founders’ Day celebration, a day to recognize both the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur and the opening of Emmanuel College by the Sisters of Notre Dame. This coming September will mark the College’s 90th anniversary.
Emmanuel College President Sister Janet Eisner, SND presented the opening remarks for the celebration. She discussed the economic hardships that the country is facing and reminded those present that we are being called to return to the “American foundation.”
“President Obama is calling us forth as a people to remember that we have come through difficult times before and that we can come together now to solve today’s challenges and continue living the American story,” she said.
Just as America and each individual family have a story of where they come from, and who they are, Emmanuel too has its own story. Sister Janet reminded the community that the vision of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, their desire to share with the world God’s goodness and their passion for education serves as Emmanuel’s foundation.
“You and I continue that mission today; make real that vision for our world. This Emmanuel mission belongs to all of us – students, faculty, staff and administrators,” she said. “It is our mission to embrace, foster and live. We are writing the current chapter of this story. That is why Founders’ Day is so important, for it is in our hands to continue this legacy for today and future generations.”
Sister Margaret addressed the community with her presentation entitled “Standing Again at Compiegne.” She noted that the Emmanuel community is a vital part of the growing Notre Dame community. The Sisters currently serve in nearly 20 countries as teachers and nurses. They are hoping to create a base in Haiti and contributions from all SND communities make such feats possible. Sister Margaret has traveled the world sharing her service with those in need.
“I believe I am privileged because I am in a position to touch the lives of so many amazing people,” she said. “Men, women and children, all inspired by St Julie and her mission.”
Sister Margaret shared three examples of service that are most memorable to her. The first example was a story of sisters serving in the Congo who help children to grow crops for food and offer porridge as a means for extra nourishment for the hungry. Her second example was of an independent Catholic middle school for 6th-8th grade girls, mainly from underprivileged backgrounds, in Baltimore. She was inspired by the goodness exuded throughout the school.
“The school would be my description of an incarnation, a school which is in the image and likeness of God in a truly holistic manner,” she said. “Let it be known that if I am ever missing in the States, this is where you might find me.”
Sister Margaret’s final example was of the Global Youth Conference held at Hope University in Liverpool, England. Fourteen Notre Dame connections attended the conference, including nine Sisters; three from Nigeria, three local, two from Brazil and one from Kenya.
To conclude her address to the community Sister Margaret explained the relevance of the title “Standing Again at Compeigne.” Compeigne is a city in France where Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur founder, Saint Julie Billiart, once took refuge. While sick and unable to walk, St. Julie had a religious vision that called her to serve, leading her into her life of active ministry. Sister Margaret called upon the community to share in her mission.
“It is possible that you and I are called today to what St. Julie called the greatest work on earth,” she said.
The Founders’ Day celebration continued with a panel discussion featuring three Emmanuel students. Meaghan Mingo ’10 serves as the Sunday Service Group Leader and spoke of their services. Jennifer Marin ’09 discussed her service trip to New Orleans. Ryan Rivard ’09 also spoke of his experience on the Ecuador service trip. After the student panel, Maria Grieci ’09, who participated in a college-wide art competition, was chosen to have a piece of her artwork blessed at Founders’ Day by College Chaplain Father Stephen Boyle. The SND cross she created will hang in the Campus Ministry Office.
Founders’ Day is celebrated as a means of appreciating the College’s roots. The community gathers to remember the foundations of Emmanuel and the importance of remaining dedicated to the school’s mission through the past, present and future.
“I believe that just as each of us has a graced history – our own story of God’s intervening in our lives – so to does this College have a graced history of Emmanuel, our God with us, breaking into our story, our lives,” said Sr. Janet. “And that did not happen just 90 years ago, or 20 years ago, but now today. The Emmanuel story is still unfolding.”
Another notable event during Founders’ Week was the “Follow Your Heart Dinner, From CPA to SND: A Conversation with Sister Patricia Shea, SND.” The event was held on February 4th in the Jean Yawkey Center for Community Leadership. The dinner and intimate roundtable discussion chronicled Sister Patricia’s journey from the professional world into religious life.
“I really like this theme of ‘follow your heart’ because that is exactly what I did,” said Sister Patricia. “I feel that God is always pulling us towards things that are attractive to us and we should follow.”
Sister Patricia was inspired to serve through her experience with the Peace Corps on the Fiji Islands. She joined the corps and was sent to the island to teach high school math using her degree in accounting from The College of the Holy Cross. Being placed in a Catholic home for her cultural training, the faith of the family helped cure her homesickness. It also ignited a yearning for that type of a relationship with religion in her own life.
“There was a noticeable joy about praising God,” she said. “The church was a huge part of their society.”
Upon Sister Patricia’s return home she entered the personal accounting business, however, she felt a calling to serve and starting attending various retreats. Finally, she decided to follow her heart and begin her theological career. She became the business manager at a Sisters of Notre Dame retreat house and helped coordinate retreats.
Sister Patricia began her mission as an SND in October, when she took her first vows at Emmanuel College. She has followed her desire to serve and now works to help others find their own calling in life.
“I try to use the gifts that God has given to me to help others realize their potential,” she said.
Also a part of Founders’ Week, Emmanuel College hosted the only Boston-area showing of the film "They Killed Sister Dorothy" in the Janet M. Daley Library Lecture Hall on February 3rd.
Directed by Daniel Junge and narrated by Martin Sheen, the film chronicles the life and murder of Sister Dorothy Stang, SND, who worked on behalf of the indigenous people of Brazil for nearly 40 years. This true courtroom drama follows the trial of Dorothy’s killers and examines her life’s work in the Amazon rainforest. It was among 15 documentaries in consideration for an Academy Award nomination. Sister Dorothy Stang, SND was posthumously awarded the 2008 United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights for her work “defending the human rights of the poor, landless and indigenous populations of the Anapu region of Brazil for nearly 40 years, despite numerous death threats. She worked with farmers to help rebuild their livelihoods, cultivate their land and defend their rights from loggers and ranchers, becoming a symbol of the fight to preserve the rainforest before being killed in 2005.”
Members of the College community also participated in three service trips throughout Founders’ Week. The first service location, The Notre Dame Education Center, provides community-based comprehensive adult learning and literacy programs. The second location, the Notre Dame Montessori Pre-School in Dorchester, is an early childhood center meeting the educational needs of young children. The third service trip took place at Julie’s Family Learning Center in South Boston, a community based family support and education program focused on the development of strong, healthy family functioning. These service trips were a part of the “Educating for Life: Serving with the Sisters of Notre Dame in Boston” program.