Feature Story

Sister Gail Grimes, SNDdeN
Apopka, Florida

One of my favorite sayings of Julie is 'Let your hearts be as wide as the world'. Over the last 200 years these words have meant many different things to SND's throughout the world. For us here in Apopka, FL, these words are written in the rotunda of the Hope CommUnity Center's building reminding us daily of our call to be loving and open to all of God's people no matter who they are or where they are from. For the many people who come through our doors each day, these are comforting words because each one looks to find a place of welcome, care and love from all they meet here.

In more recent years our increased understanding of the great expanse of creation further challenges us. We are called not to have knowledge as wide as the world BUT to have HEARTS as wide as the world. What an unbelievable challenge that is! That reaches down to the depths of our hearts and calls us to live even deeper every day. Thank you Julie for that on-going call.

Sister Loreta Jordan, SNDdeN
Washington, DC

St. Julie Presente! You moved in the spirit of a good God. You encouraged all women of faith to relate in trust, to be open to new needs, especially with the poor and to join deep prayer with practical action.

I revere and thank you dear Julie for this beloved heritage. May I and we standing on staunch and decisive shoulders carry through the best of this inheritance ever open, united and learning as sisters.

Sister Edna Maier, SNDdeN
Baltimore, Maryland

My favorite memory-phrase about Julie is one that I learned in the novitiate sixty years ago. As I remember this saying, it goes something like this: A spark of the Apostolic Spirit fell from the Heart of God into the heart of Julie.... a woman who knew how to Believe and to Love!

Julie’s Spirit-spark blessed not only the people of her neighborhood, those she encountered during her travels, and those who came to visit her during her times of paralysis. She was incredibly prepared and inspired to bring to birth our good God community of Notre Dame. And NOW, here we are: Julie’s Sisters, Associates, and Friends, gifted with sparks of the Apostolic Spirit. We want to pass it on!

Sister Jacinta, SNDdeN
Belmont, California

I remember Julie's life and death, each day when I put my Notre Dame cross on. I pray her words: "If we live by crosses, we shall die of love."
This prayer gives me the courage to meet my day with its graces and challenges, as Julie did in her day. On this day, her 200th anniversary of her death, we remember St. Julie with so much love.

Sister Maureen O'Brien, SNDdeN
Lawrence, Massachusetts

On April 8, 1816, Julie sang the Magnificat, placed Notre Dame and its future in the hands of her always Good God and went home. She trusted her great friend, Francoise, and all of us to carry on.

I’ve always been energized and challenged by Julie’s belief and trust in us and awed by her passion. Given her passion for God’s work, I believe she’d grow impatient with overdependence on process as a tool for avoiding choices.

In “To Heaven on Foot” by Sister Mary Linscott, SNDdeN , I found a provocative Julie term, the ‘heresy of numbers.’ In this 200th year of Julie’s audacious act of placing Notre Dame in our hands, I believe that our numbers call us to discern new calls for Notre Dame. Will we allow ourselves to be surprised by the Spirit?

Sister Louanna Orth, SNDdeN
Cincinnati, Ohio

A number of attempts to reflect on the 200th anniversary of the death of St. Julie ended quickly. Finally it occurred to me that the most touching words for the event had already been written by her faithful friend Mother St. Joseph. They contain her desire for the future which includes all Sisters of Notre Dame

“For the consolation of the Sisters of Notre Dame I wish to continue the story of our mother, that the circumstances of her last days may remain fresh in our minds and the thought of her goodness be a fragrance in our lives through the years to come.” (The Memoirs, p. 200)

And here her Sisters are in 2016 remembering her goodness and great legacy –the Goodness of Her God!

Sister Eileen Sweeney, SNDdeN
Stevenson, Maryland

Born in the small rural village of Cuvilly, France, St. Julie Billiart was a woman of vision and courage. On this 200th anniversary of her death on April 8, 1816, we rejoice and celebrate her. Her early life was one of hard labor followed by 22 years of pain and paralysis. After her cure, she founded and spread Notre Dame for 12 years.

She sent Sisters to teach in the towns of France and Belgium after the chaos of the French Revolution. Her confidence and love of our Good God was tireless. Like a small seed buried deep in the soil, her life and work has become a giant tree spread onto our five continents.

As a high school student, I always admired our Sisters’ dedication and respect for each student. Loving St. Julie and her spirit brought me to Notre Dame 74 years ago. I thank our Good God for my vocation and years of teaching God’s goodness. I pray that Julie’s spirit in education continues in our world so needy for God’s love and goodness.