Notre Dame is a story of miracles.
St. Julie Billiart’s life was a miracle several times over. There was the miracle of her survival through the French Revolution, the miracle of her recovery from paralysis, the miracle of those twelve years in which, from so very little, she formed an international congregation.
There are the miracles of healing through Julie’s intercession—one in Belgium, one in Brazil—upon which she was canonized fifty years ago this June.
There is the miracle in this country of how eight Sisters, nearly broke, only one of whom could speak English, debarked from a riverboat onto Cincinnati’s public landing. Within a score of years they built towering schools not only in Cincinnati but in the surrounding countryside—schools not just for the affluent but also for the poor.
And there are the miracles happening around us still, almost daily.
But how? How could Julie survive and her congregation prosper? How could the dying be healed when all was considered lost? How could schools requiring acres and acres of land and millions upon millions of bricks arise where before there’d been nary a classroom nor book for the poor?
God certainly, but also something else.
You, and people like you.
People of faith pulled Julie through the French Revolution, time and time again. People of faith attended to her in all her long years of physical suffering and convalescence. People of faith provided the financial wherewithal in those first lean years of the congregation.
And years later, people of faith oceans apart prayed hour upon hour for Julie’s intervention, and for healing. The doctors had left, but they stayed.
Today, people of faith support Sister Rebecca Trujillo, who runs one of the largest charities in Nicaragua, one that provides meaningful employment to people with special needs, many who before languished in poverty alongside their parents who could not for a minute leave them. Now, these same individuals are the employees of a successful yogurt factory, of a recycling business, of a business producing arts and crafts, of a café, and of a shop making wheelchairs from bicycles.
People of faith support Power Inspires Progress, which has provided job training to over a thousand impoverished adults in Cincinnati, many of whom are climbing back from addiction and incarceration. Sister Judy Tensing and Sister Marietta Fritz are helping not only with employable skills but with employable habits and employable attitudes. And they’re helping so many land that first job on the way to self-sufficiency.
And even as Sisters Judy and Marietta are doing this, in Africa our Sisters are drilling boreholes and building photovoltaic power systems, providing clean water and electricity to villagers who have never before had them.
To the immigrant family of a hundred and seventy years ago, a family for the first time sending their children to school, were not the schools of the Sisters miracles? To a mother in Nicaragua in a dirt-floored shack, who is unable to work because of the day-in and day-out care required by her disabled child, care that no one else is willing to provide, is not the appearance of medical treatment, a sheltered workshop, and a loving support group a miracle?
God makes miracles happen, but so do you. God puts the desire to do good in all our hearts, but it is you, as a supporter of Notre Dame, who puts that goodness into action, who takes the first and subsequent steps in building the schools, in funding the yogurt factory, in providing job training to adults almost to the point of throwing in the towel, to saving young children in Africa because now they can drink a cup of water without fear of illness or even death.
We today are in schools for the underserved. We are in service to people who are poor. We are in places where others have left. We are there that the miracles can happen, miracles made possible both by God and by you.
In this time of Lent, please support us as we make manifest the miracle of God’s love and compassion in the world. Give now.