International Novitiate

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Sister of the Holy Cross Novitiate
The International Novitiate at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, helps prepare new members for living and leading in international communities and further supports its focus of being one congregation that is richly diverse in age, culture and ministry.

What is a novitiate?
A novitiate is a house of formation where new members of religious congregations get to know God, their community and themselves better. Most communities of women have two-year novitiates.

Joining a community of sisters is a process. The interested person spends time with a vocation director trying to discern whether God might be calling her to religious life. If the answer is affirmative, she applies to a congregation where she continues to test out her call as a candidate or postulant. If she continues to feel a call and is accepted by the congregation, her next step is to become a novice. After her novitiate is completed she makes her first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The sister lives under these temporary vows for five years before she makes a final commitment and is finally professed.

Where was the Holy Cross novitiate before?
Previously, the Sisters of the Holy Cross had a novitiate in each continent where we serve — Africa, Asia, North America and South America. After study and discernment, the leadership of the Congregation made the decision to integrate its four novitiates into one so that new members would have a common novitiate formation experience and get to know their peers from around the world.

Why is internationality important?
Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, founder of the Holy Cross Congregations, wanted his members to go out to the world with the message of Christ. The Sisters of the Holy Cross serve on four continents and in eight countries. Having a joint novitiate reflects the reality of the Congregation’s internationality.

Why is the novitiate located at Saint Mary’s?
We believe that its location at our motherhouse is a great benefit. The presence of our senior sisters provides added support, enrichment and examples of faithful religious and apostolic commitment for new members. There also is a strong presence of the Holy Cross family — brothers, sisters and priests — in the South Bend area. In addition, the local civic community is very multicultural, providing for rich ministry opportunities and the area is rich in overall spiritual, cultural, academic resources and experiences.

Who is in charge of the international novitiate?
Sister Mary Magdalena Gomes is the novice director. She is assisted by Sister Mary Elizabeth Bednarek.

What do the novices do in the novitiate?
First-year novices read about and reflect on spirituality, prayer, community history and participate in faith formation (Scripture, doctrine, sacraments). They spend time in personal prayer and spiritual direction. Novices provide liturgical ministry at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto and visit the Congregation’s senior sisters. They form community together, taking turns planning and leading community prayer, cooking meals and leading community meetings. In addition to their studies, they spend time acclimating to the area and culture. They also give service to the local community. Finally, the novices take part in an intercommunity novitiate with several other congregations held once a week in Chicago. There they interact with novices from other religious congregations, share novitiate experiences and participate in workshops.

Do you feel a strong desire to serve others, to find God through prayer and to live a vowed life in community? If so, please visit to find a sister in your area. 

Heartache to healing

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sister Patricia Anne Clossey, far right, chats with Marta and Rosario, two members of a support group for widows in La Luz Parish in Guadalupe, Nuevo León, Mexico.  Psychologist Amanda Villanueva, second from right, facilitates the group.
Sister Patricia Anne Clossey, far right, chats with Marta and Rosario, two members of a support group for widows in La Luz Parish in Guadalupe, Nuevo León, Mexico.  Psychologist Amanda Villanueva, second from right, facilitates the group.
Rosario and Marta are two of the first members of a support group for widows in La Luz Parish in Guadalupe, Nuevo León, Mexico.  During this past year, Sister Patricia Anne Clossey was able to offer grief support counseling to a number of women who lost their husbands.  With assistance from the Congregation’s Ministry With the Poor fund, Sister Pat secured a psychologist to facilitate the group and also assisted by adding a spiritual dimension to the reflections.

“When Rosario and Marta first came to the group, they carried much sorrow, which you could see on their faces,” said Sister Pat.  “It took a lot of courage for them just to show up that first time, but somehow they persisted and continued to come to the meetings.”

The grief support group learns tips for managing stress and receives help adjusting to a new way of life, as well as advice on how to handle the holidays alone.  The widows also are given “homework” to do between the meetings.

“Gradually you could see a change on their faces,” continued Sister Pat.  “It has not been easy, but with the help of the group, Rosario and Marta found mutual support and made new friends.

“Thanks to the Ministry With the Poor fund, they have been given some sound psychological counsel,” Sister Pat added, “and made some real progress in their grieving journey.  They are also signs of hope for others who find themselves in a similar situation.”

Sisters celebrate jubilee anniversaries

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Thirteen Sisters of the Holy Cross will celebrate diamond, golden and silver jubilees on Sunday, July 19, 2015, in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Collectively, these sisters have given 575 years of service to Holy Cross and the Church. If you would like to honor these sisters, we invite you to make a donation using our Remembrance Gift Program. Send a Jubilee card to a sister in your name. 

The seven circuit labyrinth

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Sisters of the Holy Cross invite you to experience the seven circuit labyrinth. The labyrinth and the prayer garden are located on River Road on the Saint Mary’s campus, Notre Dame, Indiana.

Labyrinths are found in many cultural and spiritual traditions and are being rediscovered worldwide. Based on the circle and the spiral, the labyrinth is an ancient and powerful symbol of wholeness and transformation. This labyrinth is a form of walking meditation. When you visit the grounds and labyrinth these ideas may prove helpful to you:
  • Pause at the entry to allow yourself to be fully conscious of the act of stepping into the labyrinth.
  • Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go or, possibly, to stop.
  • If you come upon a traveler who is moving at a different pace from you or someone who is moving in the opposite direction, you may pass each other by stepping around one another.
  • Feel free to laugh or cry or sing.
  • You may wish to pause at the center before beginning the journey back out of the labyrinth.
  • If, by chance, you find you are lost or confused, feel free to walk off the labyrinth and begin again.
There are no guidelines to walking the labyrinth. It is a joyfully sacred space. You do not need to be somber around it, but if someone is walking the labyrinth, please respect the need they may have for quiet meditation.

For more information, please visit our website.

Education for change

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Experience in health care leads Sister Nohemí to MBA program
Sister Miriam Nohemí Arizpe Paredes right, hugs a woman she met who is recovering from a stroke.
Experience in health care leads sister to MBA program
by Sister Miriam Nohemí Arizpe Paredes

I am from Monterrey, Mexico. While I was serving as a volunteer paramedic for the Red Cross in Mexico, I became aware of the suffering of HIV-positive and AIDS-infected people. It was in a hospital where I saw injustice directed toward my friend David, who was dying of AIDS. The care that David received was inadequate — for any human being. In Nuevo León, Mexico, there are still many myths about the disease that interfere with the hospital care of individuals with HIV/AIDS.

David’s journey of dying made me question, for the first time, my beliefs and my faith as a Christian. During his illness David asked me to find a priest who could minister to him as death approached. To my surprise, a priest I asked denied David the Eucharist and refused to minister to him. I was ashamed and blamed God for this unmerited hardship. I saw David’s humanity and I believe he was always surrounded by God’s love.

It is through my experiences in working with terminally ill AIDS patients in Mexico and the United States that I have strengthened my commitment to work for change in the health care system. Too often it is the marginalized, poor women and children, and those with different sexual orientation who suffer the consequences of health care deficiencies. I want to be a mediator of God’s compassion, to respond to God’s challenge of embracing people in all their diversity and to help recover the dignity due to all human beings.

My education will help me participate in and eventually establish compassionate, faith-based programs for HIV/AIDS patients. I want to give them the opportunity to be healthy, or at least to relieve their suffering by offering a safe and sacred space where they can receive treatment for their bodies, and find moral and spiritual support. Receiving my education at Saint Mary’s College, which is part of my heritage as a member of this congregation, is an honor.

Sister Miriam Nohemí Arizpe Paredes graduated in May from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, with a double major in religious studies and business administration, with a concentration in accounting and finance. In the fall she will attend Loyola University in Chicago as a student in the MBA program, with a concentration in business ethics.

Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.

Women of faith and compassion

Monday, June 22, 2015

Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, founder of the sisters, brothers and priests of Holy Cross, promoted virtues of the "whole person" as a way of life. Placing the congregation under the special patronage of Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, Father Moreau encouraged the sisters to be associated with her as women of faith and compassion.

Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, Circular Letter 14

Learn more about Father Moreau at

“Laudato si’” focuses on care of creation

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pope Francis’ much awaited encyclical on care for Earth and care for the poor was released today. In gratitude for the message of this seminal publication and in praise of creation, we are joining Catholics throughout the world in prayer with a special vespers service on Sunday, June 28, at 4:30 p.m. in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto. Campus bells also will ring that day at 4 p.m. to celebrate the encyclical, which is titled “Laudato si’: On care for our common home.” Translated in English either as “Be Praised” or “Praised Be,” “Laudato si’” is a quotation from a popular prayer of St. Francis of Assisi praising God for the creation of the different creatures and aspects of the Earth.

Pig project something to squeal about

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sister Bernadette Shilpi Rebeiro visits some newborn piglets, which are the result of a successful pig rearing project for families of St. John Parish, Khagrachori, Bangladesh.
The pig rearing project in Bangladesh began with Ministry With the Poor funding in 2013–14. Sisters Bernadette Shilpi Rebeiro and Felicita Corraya distributed piglets to parishioners of St. John Catholic Church in Khagrachori to help parish families become financially self-sufficient.

There are 14 villages in St. John Parish, and the villages are scattered and located a long distance from the church. The sisters gave a piglet and pig food to 34 families selected from the Murma, Chakma and Tripura tribes. These people are farmers and day laborers with no resources of their own. The jungle is often their only source of livelihood; they sell firewood and wild vegetables. They do not own land, but live on land that belongs to their tribal chief.

Piglets pave the way

The local pastoral team, which includes the Sisters of the Holy Cross, provided the education and materials the families needed to begin the venture. After successfully raising their pig, the families were able to sell it to buy additional piglets, thus creating their own small-scale pig farm and achieving an economic return from their efforts.

“Now these people have big smiles on their faces,” said Sister Bernadette. “They received one piglet but now some have three, some eight, some nine, some even 10 more piglets!

“It is a great joy for us. The people have learned how to be self-sufficient. It is an amazing grace and a fruit of the generosity and support of our donors. We are very thankful and keep them in our prayers. May God bless them abundantly.”

Why do we make prayer so hard?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

by Sister Margie Lavonis

There are literally hundreds of books written on prayer and how to pray. Lots of people spend more time reading and buying the latest books about prayer than actually praying. Why do you suppose that is? The people buying these books obviously see prayer as a value but apparently find it difficult.

Recently I received an insight on this matter of prayer and why we value it, while at same time we seem to avoid it. A reason could be that many of us still operate out of the Greek understanding that the human person is made up of a body and a soul. We tend to divide our lives into two categories, spiritual life and our normal life. We see our spiritual life as separate from our everyday life and fail to integrate them. We “work on” our prayer life as if it were divorced from the rest of our lives.

For too many people, prayer is often seen as an obligation or “putting in our time” with God. Imagine a woman who gives her husband 15 minutes a day of her time and spends a lot of it complaining or thinking of all she has to do. If this is the only time they give each other, their relationship would be pretty shallow and unfulfilled.

I think this often happens in our relationship with God. We try to carve out some time for him, successfully or unsuccessfully, during our day and then often don’t think about God again until we are in church or at our next prayer period.

Prayer is meant to nourish our relationship with God and not be limited to a time or place. Think of how you nurture your other significant relationships. One thing you probably don’t do is read to them words already prepared.

To develop a good relationship with someone we must spend time with that person and share about our lives, our joy and pain, our hopes and dreams. We talk about what is happening in each one’s life, and our thoughts of that other person are not limited to our physical presence.

Why should our relationship with God be that much different? Why do we try all kinds of prayer methods? Somehow we often look at the saints and measure our prayer by theirs. We fail to recognize that much of their prayer was conversation with God. They made God the center of their lives.

Many times our prayer becomes monotonous or boring so we give up. It doesn’t have to be that way. Set a realistic amount of time for prayer each day and use it to share with God the ordinariness of our lives, including our thoughts and feelings. It is our time to be honest with God. God is always with us.

Give a gift of prayer for Father’s Day

Friday, June 12, 2015

Celebrate Father’s Day with the gift of prayer. Our Development Office will send a card to your recipients telling them they will be remembered by the Sisters of the Holy Cross at Mass on Father’s Day. Gifts may be made in memory of someone special. Your donation will help people around the world. See Father’s Day remembrance card.

Fostering girls' education

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sister Bernadette Shilpi Rebeiro assists students at the girls’ hostel in Khagrachori, Bangladesh.
Hostel in Khagrachori thankful for support
by Sister Bernadette Shilpi Rebeiro

Loving greetings from Khagrachori, Bangladesh. I am very grateful to all our donors for their kindness and generosity and for the financial and prayerful support for the people here in the Hill Tracts District. With their help, our sisters from the very beginning have been working with the poor and the powerless people. We are involved with faith formation, health care and education.

This geographic area is home to different ethnic communities as well as Bengalis. The ethnic, communal and familial differences translate into different priorities and needs for girls. Three tribes live in Khagrachori — Chakma, Marma and Tripura — and the education level is very low, especially among the tribal people. The parents were not sending their daughters to be educated because of concerns for their safety and security while traveling to and from school.

To encourage the parents to educate their daughters, the parish took the initiative to open a hostel for the girls who do not reside near the school. We have 13 girls from different villages living here: seven in class three, four in class four, one in class six, and one in bachelor of arts honors.

Gratefully, we received a financial grant from the congregation’s Ministry With the Poor fund to assist poor students, especially the girls who are living in our hostel, with food, lodging, fees and school supplies, such as books, pens, pencils, etc.

The realization of the hostel has been eye-opening for the parents. They are happy to see their daughters going to school and living in a safe place. They also see the bright future that now lies ahead of their girls.

Once again I express our deepest thanks and heartfelt gratitude in the name of Saint John’s local pastoral team for our donors’ great sacrifices, thoughtfulness and generosity, and the financial assistance to support women’s education and empower women.

Holy Cross Associates meet in Boise

Monday, June 8, 2015

Holy Cross Associates in Boise, Idaho, shared a photo of their April 25 gathering in which they reflected on the topic of trust. What is a Holy Cross Associate, you may ask? Holy Cross Associates are called by God to live the Gospel message in a mutually supportive relationship with the Sisters of the Holy Cross and one another. They are women and men who share the core values of the Sisters of the Holy Cross – faith, prayer, compassion and community – and participate in the mission of Jesus by living these values in their daily lives. Want to learn more? Visit our Holy Cross Associates web page.

Protect nature, safeguard the Earth

Friday, June 5, 2015

Today, June 5, is World Environment Day, bringing to mind these words of Pope Benedict XVI: “We must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it.” The Congregations of Holy Cross – sisters, brothers and priests – issued a joint statement on climate change, declaring “Earth and the life it sustains are precious gifts of God” and calling action to safeguard these gifts “a moral responsibility integral to the mission of the Family of Holy Cross.” The statement commits us to take specific actions collaboratively to stem the global climate crisis. Join us in protecting nature and safeguarding the Earth.

Initial Profession Celebration

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

On Saturday, May 30, Sisters Martha Nambi, Rani Gumej, Shadkmenlang Kharsahnoh, Nobina Rangsa Marak and Laura Guadalupe Tiburcio Santos made their initial profession of vows in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto at Saint Mary’s. We rejoice with these sisters and remember them in prayer. See more at

Meet our podcast participants!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sister Mary Elizabeth Bednarek, CSC (left)
and Sister Verónica A. Fajardo, CSC (right)
Meet Sister Mary Elizabeth and Sister Verónica, who are participating in A Nun's Life podcast on Tuesday, June 9, at 5 p.m. EDT. Read more about them on our congregation's Facebook page at

"Sister Socks" celebrates 100 years

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sister Mary Romanus ("Sister Socks") 
Sister and staff recently gathered at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, to honor Sister Mary Romanus (Smith) on the occasion of her 100th birthday on May 25. “Every one of the 100 years has been in the loving presence of the Blessed Mother,” said Sister Mary Romanus. Often referred to as “Sister Socks,” Sister Mary Romanus enjoys wearing all types of fancy socks. This day was no exception; her white birthday stockings sported graceful peach butterflies. Happy birthday, Sister Mary Romanus!