Happy National Doctors Day

Beneficence is the quality of doing or producing good.  For medical professionals, this is the fundamental principle guiding their practice. On this National Doctor’s Day, may we all remember those who are caregivers and healers – doing so much good for others especially at this very difficult time. To our many parents, grandparents, alumnae and friends who have embraced this commitment to find healing for others, let us give thanks and appreciation!

We are all witnessing the great challenge our doctors and nurses are facing today. And yet they go to work each and every day to face these incredible challenges and provide a healing presence to those for whom they seek to do good. Let this be an inspiration to us all.  Perhaps we can find ways to support and give witness to their many good works through some small act of love and kindness. In honor of our dedicated doctors and nurses, may we all seek to do good and be a healing presence to others in some way this day.

To be a “healing presence.”

It is a call …

To listen more than we speak
To remain calm even when others are in chaos
To stay clear and focused even when no clear direction is apparent
To value people exactly as they are and not as we think they should be
To be with people who are suffering, rather than trying to have all of the answers or explain that which ultimately is “mystery”
To let go of the temptation to show only the clinical and professional side and hold back the personal and human side of caring

(Source: Catholic Health Association: https://www.chausa.org/)

Continuing to Cultivate Hope and Happiness

On this last day of week two of Remote Learning @ NDA, we certainly had another memorable start. Every day Mr. VonHandorf has faithfully brought us our prayer and pledge and they have been truly uplifting (and respectfully entertaining). Today he made arrangements for our dear Sisters Paul Ann and Rachel to open our day. And what a joy it was! You can relive those precious moments at this link .

We are so blessed to be a school sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame. They are an inspiration and source of hope each and every day. As you may know, we pay tribute to their legacy and sponsorship in our school theme each year. For the 2019-20 school year our theme of Cultivating Hope and Happiness: Strengthened by God’s Love honors the first SND educational principle of the Centrality of our Good and Provident God. Who would have known how relevant this theme would be to the moment we find ourselves in today?!

Suffice it to say – our resolve is not deterred! God’s goodness is alive and well. That is so evident in the many ways our students, teachers, parents and grandparents are supporting this new way of living and learning. Our NDA community continues to cultivate hope and happiness. May your weekend be another example!

SND Educational Principles

  • The Centrality of a Good and Provident God
  • The Human Dignity of Each Person and an Image of God
  • The Notre Dame Educator as Gospel Witness 
  • An Integrated Education for Transformation

How we spend our days

Thanks to my parents and my NDA education, I love reading. One of my favorite authors is Annie Dillard whose writing is so relevant, thoughtful, inspirational and always timely. This quote from her book The Writing Life seems made for this moment we find ourselves in. 

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Dillard goes beyond stating the obvious in that she challenges us to reflect on how we actually spend our days. Is this what we want our life to become? When we reflect back on our lives, will we wish we spent more time with friends and family, read more books, took more walks, worked longer hours, wrote more in our journal, sent more thank you notes…and on it goes. 

As our daily lives have been completely reshaped for the moment, an unintended consequence may be to take stock of how we actually do spend our days. Many are finding more time – with close family, to take walks, for quiet reflection, in front of a computer, to read books, to talk with God and to chat with friends. This may be a blessing in disguise! When we consider how we are spending our days now, will we think anew how we would like to spend our lives?

And today may you have a little more time to read this poem from Mary Oliver…

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Saying “Yes”

At some time in our lives, we are each called upon to answer a special need or challenge. Whether the task is large or small – what matters most is our willingness to say “yes!”  What follows that simple word and generous reply is most often a miraculous outcome that makes a difference for another person or even a whole community. Nothing models this more than the example of Mary, Mother of the World.

In the midst of these very challenging times, we see so many examples of generous and willing hearts! To name a few:

  • the Sisters of Notre Dame who have prepared us for this moment by challenging us all to have ‘hearts as wide as the world’ not only in our thoughts but in our actions,
  • our teachers, staff and administrators and who have spent countless hours dedicated to creating and delivering an effective remote learning experience,
  • students and parents who have embraced this new remote learning model with trust, meaningful engagement and encouragement,
  • healthcare workers putting their own lives at risk in caring for so many in our community, and
  • government officials making difficult decisions to provide safety for all of our community members in the face of incredible odds.

As we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, let us give thanks not only for the miraculous gift of Mary’s “yes”, but also the many ways that members of our community continue to say yes to the challenges placed before us all.  In doing so, we will not only come through all of this, but be much better for having done so with grace, compassion and fortitude.

A prayer we say every day at NDA:

Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.
Holy Mary Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Please share a story of someone who has said “yes” and made a difference in your family or community.


"Clouds yielding to sun"

It was a pretty gloomy day outside, but I just checked the weather for tomorrow and the prediction is “clouds yielding to sun.”  I can’t help but embrace that as a metaphor for where we find ourselves these days! It also brings to mind the scripture quote “hope does not disappoint.” Bottom line – things will get better!

As we find ourselves ‘social distancing’ from one another, we are challenged to do things that relieve the stress and anxiety that comes with this new temporary situation. One of those activities is taking a walk outside and enjoying the many beauties of God’s creation. Life that has been hidden in these winter months makes it reappearance! Many students, teachers and staff are finding new simple joys in something we may take for granted. They have shared their experiences of this activity, including a few lovely photos. (Thank you Ms. Barnes and Mr. Byrd!)

It is spring after all – and COVID 19 can’t stop that from coming! Seeing life burst forth as young buds, colorful flowers and green shoots can be a great source of joy and hope.

Whatever you have on your agenda for tomorrow – make sure to include a walk or at least a visit to your backyard. Take stock of all the new life you see coming forth. Embrace the “clouds yielding to sun.” It is a great way to cultivate hope and happiness, sent to us directly by our good and loving God!

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Silver Linings

We are moving into week 2 of our Remote Learning plan at NDA. As the difficult reality of our social distancing sinks in for us all, it does help to stay focused on the positive. This past week has been filled with those “silver linings” and many of our teachers, students, parents and alumnae have provided much uplifting testimony.

Today we held our first ever faculty meeting online and it was a perfect example! All 45 of our faculty and administrators came together on Google Meets and shared experiences and ideas.  It was upbeat and productive! One clear message of optimism from our faculty today was how well our students are handling the remote learning. Our Pandas have been so amazing through this whole process. They have readily engaged, asked questions, shared ideas, taken tests, made presentations and led us in prayer – all from the comfort of their homes! Don’t get any ideas though this isn’t permanent!

Please join me in praying for all of our Pandas and all of our young people in these very confusing and challenging times. I think this prayer from St. Teresa of Avila is a good place to start.

To our young people:

Let nothing disturb you,
Nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

Grateful for Our Faculty

Week one of NDA remote learning is now complete!  We have heard lots of positive feedback and have so many to thank for that, first and foremost, our teachers. They are doing a phenomenal job of planning and executing this new way of teaching. The ingenuity, creativity and collaboration are outstanding.  Of course they have been expertly led by Mr. VonHandorf and Ms. Grayson and fully supported by our outstanding technology team.

The stories our teachers are sharing speak volumes about their great work as well as the commitment of our NDA students and families. Mr. Byrd was impressed with his students doing literature presentations on Google Meet and others sharing ideas and reflection on discussion board. Mrs. Stine took time to allow her theater students to practice some mindfulness and was happy to see moms join their daughters in practicing ways to relieve anxiety.  Ms. Brennan described how students are using their iPad cameras to record progress on their textile projects. Multiple teachers report perfect attendance and lots of student collaboration!

Our teachers are successful because they believe in and care deeply for our students. So I leave this prayer with you.  It is prayer that gives voice to the reason educators do what they do!  May we say it with gratitude in our hearts for the loving and dedicated work of our teachers.

Abba Father, we lift up our students to You. We have witnessed them growing in love, sisterhood and holiness. We ask you to keep them in your provident care, to guide them, and to protect them on this journey of life. Send your angels to watch over them as they travel near and far. May they grow in wisdom and knowledge, as they become women making a difference in ways large and especially in small ways. Small ways accumulate and change the world a little at a time. Let them never devalue their worth and contributions to the world. May they always know they have an eternal home with you and an earthly home here with us at Notre Dame Academy. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.  – Ms. Pat Brennan

New Way of Living

The response to the COVID19 pandemic has impacted our families beyond measure. Whole new routines are being developed as our students maneuver remote learning at home and parents juggle new challenges in their personal and professional lives. Many of you are adding tutor, counselor, technology specialist and teacher assistant to your various roles!

Our parents have found an opportunity to tune in more directly with what their daughters are learning as they peer over shoulders, assist with connectivity and even sit in on a lesson or two.  Perhaps this newfound time with each other will provide an opportunity to connect with your loved ones, have a few more meals together and share in some of life’s often missed special moments.

I am learning how to share my husband’s workspace and enjoying the occasional cup of tea he brings me! We are ever mindful of our adult sons in NYC, Minneapolis and here locally  – praying that they are staying safe and healthy. My youngest sister has 3 school age children and they have a whole new schedule that not only includes daily school lessons but real life skills like cooking, cleaning and car maintenance! I imagine many of you can relate to these different family dynamics.

On this feast day of St. Joseph, we pray in a special way for all our families, students, staff, teachers and alumnae alike. May this new way of living as a family bring you closer together and may you find special graces in the myriad of challenges and all the unexpected moments.

Gracious St. Joseph, protect me and my family from all evil as you did the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever fervent in imitation of the virtue of our Blessed Lady, your sinless spouse, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen.

We send a special thank you to Mrs. Bridget Price, our Campus Minster, who facilitated our opportunity to share in Pope Francis’ call for a worldwide rosary today at 4:00 p.m.

The Power of Prayer

As a school community during these difficult times, our goal is to continue to provide learning opportunities and structure for our students. That includes prayer.  Everyday we would all hear Mr. VonHandorf deliver the daily prayer and pledge over the PA. In our new model, we not only hear Mr. V., but we get to see him on video too!  In difficult times we find unexpected blessings.  I imagine I am not the only one who would add this experience to that list! You can see today’s morning prayer from Mr. VonHandorf HERE.

Praying together as a community is so important at our Catholic school – and even now more than ever.  Another morning tradition, begun by Sr. Reina Arlinghaus many years ago, is a decade of the rosary in chapel before school, for anyone who wishes to attend. Our Campus Minister, Bridget Price, invites all of us to join her and her family every day at 8:45am to continue that tradition.  We will not be in the chapel together for now, but we will be joined in solidarity across Northern Kentucky and beyond as we ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother. 

Our teachers are reporting wonderful stories about their experiences. Challenges exist – but our resolve has not diminished and nor should it. As our IT Director Niko Kitsinis humbly reflected: We are in a great position to move to Remote Learning, not because of our technology, but because we have people that are willing to learn and adapt! It has been great to see everyone working together and helping each other with this transition. 

So much to pray for indeed – today I am starting with gratitude!

We invite students, alumnae and families, wherever you are, to join us at 8:45 a.m. every day in saying a decade of the rosary.

Remote Learning – Day 1

Wow – our first ever remote school day and from all reports it has gone well!   On St. Patrick’s Day, we might give some credit to the Luck O’ the Irish! But today’s success begins and ends with the planning and preparation of our administration, teachers and IT staff, AND the genuine and thoughtful participation of our students. I heard some students were even wearing their uniforms as they engaged in school from home! What dedicated Pandas!

Perhaps you also wore something green today. Shamrocks, Leprechauns, the Irish flag – green is the color of the day and some say green is also the color of hope. In spite of these challenging times – we all have reason to hope. 

I was reminded of that first thing this morning when our religion teacher Mrs. Johnson shared St. Patrick’s prayer with us over email.  As we opened our day with this hopeful prayer may we keep it in hearts as we go forward on this journey together.

Please share signs of hope from your journey!