School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education

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USCMA Conference

This past weekend was the USCMA conference on the topic of Interreligious Dialogue.  We had great speakers from each of the Abrahamic traditions as well as people who are on the ground trying to participate in and encourage dialogue with other faith traditions.  One comment that came up frequently is that when we are secure in knowing our own tradition we can be open to all the ways that other traditions can gift us with other ways to come to God or live our own tradition better.  Opening ourselves to dialogue with other traditions helps us appreciate how great God is.  Dr. Scott Alexander was the final speaker and his analysis of what limits or impedes the dialogue between Christians and Muslims was very enlightening.  I found his discussion of “Universal Truths” especially thought-provoking.

The Lay Mission Helpers and Mission Doctors Associations received the Mission Award for this year.  Lay Mission Helpers is the oldest lay mission sending group in the United States.  Missionaries have donated over 2000 years of service to the Church.  Amazing!

Of course it is always good to reconnect with old friends and to meet new people who are passionate about mission.  Next year the conference will be in St. Louis!!


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World Mission Sunday

This coming Sunday is World Mission Sunday.  I have to admit that I didn’t pay much attention to it until I was in Africa.  In Kabala where I lived they made a big deal of it.  The Catholic Women’s Association had sales to raise money.  It was actually preached about in Church.  I remember being appauled that people in my town were asked to contribute “for those who are in need.”  They were the ones in need.  I made a point of saying this to the parish priest when he was visiting our house.  “How could you ask these poor people to give money for the poor!?!  He looked at me kindly and simply said, “Kathy, don’t you think that the people here also want to be a part of the church?”  It was a pivotal moment for me, not only in my thinking about Mission Sunday.  I had been only thinking of the people there as receivers, as objects to put it bluntly.  His comment opened my eyes to the richness and the generosity that was right there in front of me.  So now I get angry when I go to a parish here on Mission Sunday and no mention is even made of it.  The people here are missionaries, too, by virtue of their baptism.  They should get the chance to pray and share with others throughout the world.

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Anniversay of Vatican II

Celebrating the Anniversary of Vatican II yesterday really brought me to introspection on how significant that gathering was to me and to all of the Church.  I think especially of the new understanding of ourselves as Church.  i know that our call to Africa is a direct outcome of Vatican II.  We saw that the needs of the church in other parts of the world were our needs.  We had used the term “universal church” before but it was a very theoretical understanding.  In my family we prayed for missionaries and in school we “bought pagan babies” but we never saw ourselves as so intimately connected with others until we started to see ourselves as “Body of Christ”.  I am so grateful for the ways the Spirit opened the spirit in each of us through Vatican II.