26 September 2017

After an orientation to the translation equipment, Sister Mary Maher, general superior, opened the 24th General Chapter:

“I hereby officially open the 24th General Chapter of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.  We begin today a sacred event in the life of our congregation and in the life of the Church.  I am confident that the Holy Spirit will give us the graces and blessings we need to hear God’s call and to respond with our whole hearts.  …

“Sisters, for a year now we have been solemnly calling on the Holy Spirit to come, to enlighten and strengthen us.  When we sing Veni, Creator Spiritus today, let us unite our hearts with our sisters around the world and with all who have gone before us in the church and in the congregation.  United with them, let us pray and let us fully believe that our prayer will be answered.”

During the opening ritual, S. Kathleen Storms chanted the litany of saints. S. Ruth Ann Klauser, chapter secretary, then called the name of each sister present, and each indicated her presence.

Orientation continued with an overview of the agenda and schedule, a review of materials in folders, and a review of the roles.

In the afternoon, Archbishop William Lori presided at the opening liturgy. A reception followed on the terrace. Here are excerpts from Archbishop Lori’s homily:

“A few days ago, I paid a visit to the Institute of Notre Dame in Baltimore …. As most of you know, IND is celebrating its 170th anniversary, having opened its doors in 1847 with a grand total enrollment of two students.

“As I reviewed the history of the School Sisters of Notre Dame … I was struck by the interaction of the Holy Spirit with the heart and soul of your founder Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger. In 1833, a time of cultural ferment, upheaval, and violence … when the world that she and her family knew seemed to be crumbling, Caroline Gerhardinger heard the call of the Holy Spirit, …

“In this Mass of the Holy Spirit, … let us give thanks to the Lord for this beautiful gift and let us ask that this charism be renewed and deepened in these days … For the world as we’ve known it is passing away …

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Blessed Theresa of Jesus understood what many others in her day did not understand, namely, things did not have to remain the way they were. Things could change and they could change for the better. … She would help forge a new way of living consecrated life that was suited for the times in which she lived and ministry to which she was called.

“We invoke the Holy Spirit so that you may also see, in spite of obstacles, new possibilities for living out the beautiful spirit of Blessed Theresa ….”