SND USA…Becoming One for the Sake of Mission

This past weekend was a momentous occasion for our founders and sponsors – the Sisters of Notre Dame. After nine years of planning, the sisters have moved to a new national leadership model and on Saturday, July 5, the SND’s installed their new Provincial Government representing SND USA. The event celebrated the unification of the four SND provinces in the United States. It was a moving and grace filled ceremony that reflected the sisters’ charism and commitment to mission.

We congratulate our new Provincial, Sr. Margaret Gorman, and members of her leadership council, including assistant provincial Sr. Shauna Bankemper (past president of NDA). As Sr. Margaret stated in her remarks, “Our journey was never about us – all along we have said we are becoming one for the sake of mission.” SND USA is about that mission and ensuring its future success. Sr. Margaret explained that each of the sisters received a picture to the Annunciation by artist John Swanson. The image portrays Mary as she is standing on a threshold – just as the congregation does at this moment of transition.  

As the founders and sponsors of Notre Dame Academy, the SND story is our story and our legacy. That fact does not change. The SND mission has and always will be at the heart of our mission and work at NDA. Since their founding in 1850, the SNDs have continued to meet the needs of the current times and in doing so ensured the relevance and effectiveness of their mission. I know we can all relate to responding to the realities of our times, the sisters have taught us well! 

Last but not least, this event marked the final day for Sr. Mary Ethel Parrott as our local provincial of our Covington Province. In this leadership role, Sr. Mary Ethel has served our sisters, our school and our community well for the last six years! In many ways this is a bittersweet moment indeed as significant change always is. Sr. Mary Ethel has been appointed to the new Board of Directors for the National Ministry Corporation – she is one of seven leaders from around the country who will sit on this Board. I am hoping she will also take a much deserved break.

Please join me in congratulating the Sisters of Notre Dame in making this major transition and never wavering from the commitment to their mission to serve others and transform our world. Just as they do for us, let us keep them in our prayers and embrace them today and always with “hearts as wide as the world.”

A Just World For All

Every Tuesday evening I am blessed to join an amazing prayer group as we reflect on the readings for the upcoming Sunday and relate them to the realities of our lives and the current times. As you might imagine, much of conversation last night centered on the horrific fatal arrest of George Floyd and the protests and violence that have ensued since. This Sunday is the  Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – a celebration of our Good God as a community of persons. What a fitting reminder for our current times! The human family is also a community of persons each made in the image of God.

In the second reading for Sunday, St. Paul invites us – brothers and sisters – to “mend our ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace…to greet one another with a holy kiss.” At the heart of the peaceful protests are people of good will seeking a just world for all. In this we can see St. Paul’s prayer that we live in peace with one another. As a Christian community we do not condone the violence or looting that has taken place, but we do support and lift up those who stand up for justice for all – knowing this is the only way to truly achieve the community that God calls us to be. 

As a school sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame, we embrace their four educational principles, the second of which is the human dignity of each person as an image of God. This is fundamental to a just and peaceful world which is why we want our students to experience it as defining component of our school community. The Sisters have published a statement condemning the violence that has unfolded in recent days and standing in solidarity with all those who hold us accountable for the respect and dignity that each human person deserves. May we join the sisters and embrace this message in our own lives.

“Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” 
2Cor 13:11-13

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”           
Margaret Mead

“If you want peace, work for justice.”
Pope Paul VI

Go Make A Difference Class of 2020

Graduation 2020 is certainly one for the history books! While memories may focus on what was not possible, we certainly learned what is possible with a little innovation and creativity. May it be the latter that rests in the hearts and minds of our 2020 graduates. Our traditions were celebrated in new ways that created special memories they can always call their very own!

Last Friday, as our graduates drove through our campus, it was such a joy to present them with their awards certificates, memory book, bouquet of red roses, diploma and alumnae gifts. Our seniors arrived to congratulatory signs at the entrance, faculty and staff greeting them along the driveways, the sisters cheering them on and administrators presenting their graduation materials and memorabilia. As graduates, they left with many meaningful items in their possession. We hope they also left with a sense of accomplishment knowing how much they are loved and celebrated by our Notre Dame Academy community.

Later in the day, each of our graduates watched the first ever prerecorded video of their graduation ceremony  – the 112 Commencement at Notre Dame Academy! This video alone is unique to this class. As each young woman is presented with her diploma, what a joy it is to reflect on the amazing journey that lies ahead for her and the great potential she has to bring about positive change in our world. There is so much hope in that!

Having gone through the last few weeks, it goes without saying the journey ahead will be filled with challenges and even heartache. But it will also be filled with promise, hope and joy. Most importantly, each member of the Class of 2020 has all she needs to succeed – in the many gifts she has been given by our Good and Provident God.

We raise our graduates up in a song they sang so many times at NDA!

Go make a difference, we can make a difference
Go make a difference in the world
Go make a difference we can make a difference
Go make a difference in the world

We are the salt in the earth, called to let the people see
The love of God in you and me
We are the light of the world, not to be hidden, but be seen
Go make a difference in the world

We are the hands of Christ, reaching out to those in need
The face of God for all to see
We are the spirit of hope, we are the voice of peace

Go make a difference in the world…

So let your love shine on,
let it shine for all to see.
Go make a difference in the world.
And the spirit of Christ
will be with us as we go.
Go make a difference in the world.

                                                Steve Angrisano

Looking Forward

For the last three days our students have filed through NDA to clean out lockers, pickup personal items and drop off any school items they had to return. Mr. VonHandorf greeted and checked in every one of them. They made their way through a very orderly process that honored the social distancing and safe practices we all must embrace at this time. We are certainly creating new ways to handle school processes and interact with our students! It was good practice as we work to bring our students back in the building over these next few months.

Certainly many are wondering what our new school year will look like. Suffice it to say 20-21 will be another year of firsts, but rest assured we are preparing for the challenges ahead. Our leadership team has begun working with several faculty, staff and parents to develop options for the new school year. We are focused on the following priorities:

  • The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff
  • Our mission as a Catholic student dedicated to Mary
  • Our tradition of academic excellence for each student
  • Meaningful engagement in our community
  • Necessary support systems to empower each of our students

We will consult any and all reopening guidelines made available to us by the Kentucky Department of Education, the Covington Diocese and the Governor’s Office. We are blessed with a number of alumnae and parents who are very involved in the medical community in NKY and will seek their input as well.

We will continue to innovate and create as we look to develop best practices for getting back in school safely and effectively. At this point we are working towards options that include being in school with needed modifications or having a blended plan that includes in school and remote instruction for each student. Please know we will send regular update on our progress toward a plan.

At NDA we begin all activities with a prayer, that includes our meetings. We use this mission prayer regularly and we are counting on it to inspire and encourage as we plan for the days ahead with hope and determination.

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. 

                                                                        Sr. Marla Monahan, SND

Facing Challenges with Hope and Optimism

Friday was our final day the 2019-20 school year and it will certainly be remembered as a year like no other. Our school community has done a tremendous job over these last 2 months as everyone made the best of a difficult situation. As we began the 19-20 school year, we had no idea these experiences were in our future!

– students learning remotely from bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms

– lectures, class discussions and student presentations on google meets

– parents sitting in on classes  and serving as teacher’s aides

– family pets joining our online learning community

– Mr. VonHandorf becoming a YouTube sensation!

And now, as we look to our future, we have no idea what surprises still might be in store for us.  Of course we all hope for the best but need to be prepared for challenges – always. That’s just life. And that is the Notre Dame Academy way! Following the lead of our sponsors the Sisters of Notre Dame – we are committed to facing the challenge of this current time with hope and optimism.

In that spirit we took on the challenge and opportunities of this school year and in that spirit will embrace those of our new school year! We are currently working on our plan to open school in August and know that we will embrace what lies ahead as a community centered on our school’s mission and the health and safety of our students and staff. Please watch for updates in the near future!

As we begin these summer months we pray for many things.  I will start with these and know each of have many of your own to add as well.

May our  hearts be filled with gratitude for our family, friends, teachers and colleagues

May our summer days provide time for relaxation and renewal

May all our young people know they are loved and supported even in the hardest of times

May our graduates look to the future with courage and excitement

May our country join together as we face the many challenges and opportunities of this 21st century


May each and everyone of us know God’s goodness this day and always!

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 

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 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 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