Senior Send Off 2020

Today we celebrated our Senior Send Off in a new way while still honoring our beloved traditions. For years, we would celebrate our seniors after their last day with an all school assembly that featured a multitude of loving messages from their Panda sisters and teachers.

The COVID19 version had to be different – but our goals did not have to change! Through a little human ingenuity and generosity, the loving messages and well wishes are still being shared! Today, the procession into the auditorium was replaced with each senior driving up to school for greetings from the sisters, teachers, staff and our administration – all in masks of course!  We distributed t-shirts, poster size composites of the class of 2020, cafeteria treats and certificates for a free lunch (enticing them to come back for a visit next year).  The traditional and memorable send-off video was produced and released to them at home in the afternoon for all to enjoy with their family.

While this was different from what we all expected, it was still a joyful and grace-filled experience. We were all so happy to see our students faces and it was apparent that they each appreciated the greetings and gifts. The experience was fun and memorable. It seems we are finding a lot of ways to create new memories and celebrate those we love these days.

By embracing human ingenuity and generosity we can create something new that still honors tradition. Nothing changes the fact that we still want to honor our seniors and show how much we care for them and wish them well. Their journey forth will take them to many new places, but they will always be a part of this NDA community and for that we will always be grateful!

NDA School Song

NDA we honor thee with our voices, our hearts, our song,

NDA we sing to thee in a melody clear and strong,

NDA we’re all for thee through the years as they roll along

Alma Mater, Glory to thee, forever NDA!

Mother’s Day

My mother lives in a nursing facility and I have not seen her for almost 2 months. I have spoken with her on the phone of course and it is always reassuring to hear her voice and know she is being well cared for. Celebrating Mother’s Day brought the longing to see her even closer to home and I am sure that was true for many who are experiencing similar situations.

The good news is that my mother prepared me and my 6 siblings well for times like this. Our mothers know that we are sure to experience situations that don’t turn out the way we expect them to, that create fear, pain and hardship. We have all certainly had our share of that these days. However, Mother’s Day was a good time to reflect – not on those difficulties – but rather gratitude for the things our mothers have taught us – those graces that have prepared us for moments like this.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.”

I hope this quote resonates for you as you think of your mother or perhaps a woman who has been like a mother to you. I also hope it is a quote we can all embrace as we deal with our present and look to the future. Like mothers, may we each embrace this strength and dignity as gifts of grace from our good and provident God. And may we pay tribute to our mothers and all those who embrace God’s many gifts as an undeniable reason to have hope in our future. Our mothers would certainly want it that way – I know mine does!

A Prayer in Gratitude for Our Mothers

Good and Gentle God,
we pray in gratitude for our mothers and for all the women of theory 
who have joined with you in the wonder of bringing forth new life. 
You who became human through a woman, grant to all mothers the 
courage they need to face the uncertain future that life with 
children always brings.

Give them the strength to live and to be loved in return, not 
perfectly, but humanly.

Give them the faithful support of husband, family and friends 
as they care for the physical and spiritual growth of their 
children.

Give them joy and delight in their children to sustain them 
through the trials of motherhood. Most of all, give them 
the wisdom to turn to you for help when they need it most.
                                                                                    Author unknown

May, the month of Mary!

Today is a special day for NDA – the first day of May – the month of Mary! This month is dedicated to honoring Mary – the mother of Jesus, the first disciple, our advocate, helper and Mother of the World! As a school sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame, we have a special devotion to Mary which is reflected in our school’s mission statement, our daily prayers and many school activities.

Our Mary Mother of the World Chapel features 14 stained glass windows designed and fabricated by stained glass artist Claire Wing. These panels depict many images of Mary that reflect her loving and gracious influence around the world.

Mary, Star of the Sea

Our Lady of the Way

Our Lady of the Star

Mystical Rose

Our Lady of Light

Our Lady of Fire

On March 12, just a day before our last day together, three glass panels were delivered to our Chapel. They will be the new Mary Shrine (also designed by Claire Wing) in our chapel. The final installation of the shrine will commence upon our return to school. May it always be a place of quiet reflection opening our hearts to Mary’s example and love.

This year our May Crowning will be released as a video on Wednesday, May 6. Senior Molly Kleier will crown Mary with a wreath of flowers. In her beautiful essay about Mary’s influence in her life, Molly said “As an empowered young woman wanting to make a positive difference in the world, I see Mary as my primary role model.”  May this month of May, this month of Mary, inspire each of us to be so bold.

NDA Mission Statement

Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic high school dedicated to Mary and committed to academic excellence, exists to educate young women to make a difference in the world.

NDA Mission Prayer

Good and Gracious God, help us to grow as a community centered in Jesus Christ, witnessing to your goodness. May we like Mary, grow in the spirit of the Gospel, in love and respect for all, and in service of one another. 

Help us to strive for excellence in all we teach and do, so that your kingdom may come on earth and we can truly make a difference in our world.  Amen

Sr. Marla Monahan, SND

Gratitude

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.  Cicero

This is one of my favorite quotes! It brings to mind the question of the glass being half full or half empty. It speaks to having a grateful heart, a mindset open to focusing on our blessings first. Many have commented on things to be grateful for at this difficult time – those silver linings that lift our spirits and embolden our days. What would we do without them?

This quote also speaks to the necessity of gratitude before all else. Perhaps we can reflect on how a grateful heart makes us more courageous, hopeful, kind, compassionate, loving, generous – the list of virtues goes on.  And aren’t those many of the virtues we need most at this moment?

Ironically, one outcome of this COVID19 pandemic may be an increase in this greatest of virtues – gratitude. We find new gratitude for things we may have taken for granted, we are grateful for small gestures of kindness, our hearts are filled with gratitude for those who put their own lives on the line to care for others, we thank God for our health and being spared the worst of this disease.    

May this prayer of gratitude nurture courage, hope, kindness, kindness, compassion, love and generosity in you and those you are grateful for.

Prayer of Gratitude during COVID19 Pandemic

Good and Gracious God,
We thank you for the beautiful weather over the past week – the sun and the refreshing rain. 
We thank you for the signs of new life that are blooming all around uWe thank you for the extra family time we have been experiencing. 
We thank you for the creative ways we have been able to connect with family, friends and the community. 
We thank you for the many people who are working the frontlines during this crisis, setting aside their own safety for the good of the many. 
We thank you for all the many blessings that perhaps had been taken for granted but are now acknowledged. 
We ask you to help us continue to recognize these blessings and to seek out ways to celebrate all our students and their many accomplishments as we draw close to the end of another school year. 
We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen
Bridget Price, Campus Minister

Hope

“Hope is a thing with feathers – that perches in the soul…” This excerpt from a poem written by Emily Dickinson around 1861, was shared on a note to our seniors with a yellow rose they received when they picked up their cap and gown on Friday. The rose is a reminder of the traditional red roses they will receive at graduation.

Ms. Dickinson would not have known how relevant her poetry is in this specific moment in 2020, but there is no doubt she wanted to offer a reflection on hope’s eternal promise even in times of great disappointment.

Dickinson presents hope as ever present – a bird that never stops singing. In our faith we know that hope is a virtue and confident expectation of what God has promised. Psychologist Charles Synder defines hope as the “perceived ability to produce pathways to achieve desired goals and to motivate oneself to use those pathways.” Ethereal metaphor, God’s constant love for us, psychological construct – hope is real and present in our lives. It us something we can identify and embrace.

We are all dealing with many disappointments and fears in the midst of this pandemic. Hope is needed now more than ever. May we always be open to the promise of hope knowing this is the first step to making this all better for ourselves and each other. 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
 
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
                                                                                                      Emily Dickinson

Dawn Comes After the Night

Happy Earth Day – the 50th anniversary! It was April 22, 1970 and concerned citizens, in response to a multitude of environmental crises, took action by creating this day. It was to bring awareness to the importance of preserving our beautiful natural creation. Our earth is a gift from God and we are called to care for it and all its creatures, including ourselves.

Ever seeking a connection to this present moment – because it is so present to us – I went in search of a connection. I found this quote by Rachel Carson – one of my favorite female scientists – who is credited with starting the environmental movement in our country after the publication of her book Silent Spring. 

“Those who contemplate the beauty of earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”                                                                            Rachel Carson

It was a very difficult day today for so many reasons, and I know our seniors are hurting especially. They were on my mind all day. It was also a very beautiful spring day. I take comfort in Ms. Carson’s words and pray fervently that our students can as well. This moment of disappointment and pain will not last forever. But today we celebrate the hope that the beauty of our earth – a gift from our good God – surely will.  May the beauty of this day bring peace, hope and renewed energy to stay focused on the incredible journey God has placed before each and every one of us. May we become emboldened knowing that “dawn comes after the night.”

Somebody To Lean On

Today as we all returned from our spring break – hopefully refreshed and emboldened by the message of the Easter Season – we also learned from Governor Beshear that in person schooling will not happen for the rest of the school year. This has many implications for all of us, but most certainly for the class of 2020 – at NDA and at schools across our state. Our hearts go out to each and every one of them. We remain committed to doing all we can to make the best of this very difficult situation for our soon to be newest alumnae.

The social distancing and stay at home strategies have clearly saved lives and made a difference to mitigating the exponential growth of this infection. We know that so many are making sacrifices and are seriously affected by the COVID-19 virus. Of course there is no greater sacrifice than those who have lost their loved ones or their own lives to this virus.

Human suffering is a part of our experience. At this difficult time, we suffer as individuals, as families, as a community, as a country and even as a world. Our humanity is not only defined by this reality – it is defined by our common experience of suffering and by our sense of compassion for each other. We can all imagine the pain that our seniors are experiencing and know how vital it is to support them and each other in such difficult times. 

Bill Withers song – Lean On Me – seems to have taken on a lot of significance these days.   Perhaps we can each think of someone we can reach out to and be that person they can lean on. 

“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain 
We all have sorrow 
But if we are wise 
We know that there's always tomorrow 
Lean on me, when you're not strong 
And I'll be your friend 
I'll help you carry on 
For it won't be long 
'Til I'm gonna need 
Somebody to lean on.” 
                           Bill Withers, 1938-2020

Inspired by St. Julie Billiart

On this day in 1816, Julie Billiart died at the age of 65. She was canonized a saint in 1969. St. Julie’s life work was to bring God’s goodness into our world through the many good works she performed throughout her life. Most notably, she founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (Belgium) and is considered the spiritual mother of the Sisters of Notre Dame (Germany). You can hear more about St. Julie’s story here. You can see her portrait in the foyer of our school building.

St. Julie suffered extreme physical and emotional hardship in her personal life including persecution during the French Revolution. In spite of all this, she proclaimed a hope-filled philosophy of life grounded in her belief in God’s infinite goodness. Here are two frequently quoted sayings of St. Julie that have been inspirations to many of us at NDA. Perhaps these offer points of reflection in your Easter week journey.

“Be like the sunflower that follows every movement of the sun and keep your eyes always turned towards our good God.”

 “Our charity must not be limited by the love we have for one another. It must make our hearts as wide as the world.”

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New ways to experience community

One thing is certain – we all miss each other at NDA! I have heard this countless times from students, faculty, staff and our dear SND’s on the 4th floor! It is a blessing to see each other virtually on Google Meet, but certainly not the same as being in the school building together every day. Social media has been a saving grace in many ways but can’t replace the energy and camaraderie of our daily interactions at school – in the hallways, classrooms, auditorium, cafeteria, gym, library, theater and even the crazy parking lot at the end of the day!

There are few small things we can do to help us with that and today was a great example. Several of our faculty and staff did a drive by greeting with the sisters on the 4th floor. Yes, we miss them too and they miss us – so we drove in our individual cars through the parking lot and around the circle as the sisters all stood a safe distance away. Sharing signs, waving and blowing horns and kisses – it proved to be a rather joyous occasion. You can see a bit of it on the video here – enjoy!

We are finding news ways to experience community and show support for one another in these difficult days. They are proving fruitful in many ways not the least of which is appreciating the basic needs we have for each other and the simple ways we can share that. The sisters pray for us all the time! Let us all keep one another in prayers of petition and gratitude!

Embracing Father,
You grace each of us with equal measure in your love.
Let us learn to love our neighbors more deeply,
so that we can create
peaceful and just communities.
Inspire us to use our creative energies
to build the structures we need
to overcome the obstacles
of intolerance and indifference.
May Jesus provide us the example needed
and send the Spirit to warm our hearts for the journey.
Amen

—from Being Neighbor: The Catechism and Social Justice

Bringing the good news of the Easter story to life

During this Holy Week we recount the journey that Christ took into the darkest experience of human pain and suffering. And today, this journey of human suffering seems all to present to us with the COVID19 pandemic. Christ’s story has the joyful ending of resurrection to new life –  how can we find Easter joy in our current time? How can we apply the Easter story to this present moment? 

It might just be possible that Easter was made for moments like this! We see how the story of Christ’s passion unfolds and we also get to know how it ends. Of course, that alone is an inspiration! We don’t know for sure how our current story will end but we can have faith and imagine the ‘new life’ that can come from all of this. We can hope for a good outcome and put that hope to work through our actions that do make a difference. There are so many in our community doing this already. Think of the health care workers who go to the frontlines every day to provide comfort and care for those who are suffering.

As we begin Holy Week, let us consider ways we bring about positive outcomes in our lives?  Perhaps we can work on a strained relationship, help out more around the house, be more supportive of a sibling, spend a little more time in prayer, be more loving to a sibling, appreciate the beautiful natural world God has given us – there are so many possibilities. The size of the action is not as important as the hope and love with which it is made. This can be the way we bring the good news of the Easter story to life and with it a joy-filled Easter season.

So inspired by the words of Mother Theresa, let us begin our Holy Week with great hope that we will indeed celebrate the joy of Easter.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”                          Mother Theresa