"To go where needed..."


In the middle of the night, in the jungle, in an African country the name for which no longer exists, Sister Evelyn Fitzke hunted toads.

Not just any toads. Male toads. The one in twenty toads that are not female.

Abroad as well in the murkiness, after these same toads, were mighty and venomous snakes.

Yet Sister Evelyn persisted. And why?

Because in this country, in this part of it, there were no pregnancy tests. And a young wife, traveling alone to the Notre Dame Clinic, needed to know if changes in her body were due to pregnancy or disease. But though pregnancy tests were not to be had, the hormone used in such tests was. And Sister Evelyn, a medical professional, knew it. And she knew where to find it.

In the belly of a toad.

So out she was in the African night. And not just one night. Many. And not for one young woman. But many.

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur go where we’re needed. It’s what Saint Julie expects of us. If there is a need, we go to the need. And with whatever tools at our disposal. If it involves searching out toads, we are there. If it means facing down loggers, we are there. If it means caring for the elderly, we are there.

Sister Evelyn has worked on four continents: North and South America, Africa and Asia. In Asia, she worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer. As a Sister, she worked not only in what would become the Democratic Republic of Congo, but in Peru. She ministered in slums, villages and squatters’ camps. She provided healthcare. She got people to doctors. She secured prescriptions. She brought soup to the hungry. She read newspapers to the blind. The list of things she did is long because the list of needs was long.

Yet she persisted.

Sisters don’t enter religious life to be teachers, or nurses, or social workers or lawyers. We enter religious life to walk among those for whom Christ labored. And we try as best we can to do as Christ would.

Sister Evelyn’s ministry is still unfolding. Today, with Sister Teresita Weind, she is overseeing the health, emotional well-being and spiritual engagement of our eldest Sisters, all of whom, like her, responded to the needs of their world with all the skills they could muster and all the resolve God could give them. Just as God does not stay at a safe distance but instead walks with us shoulder to shoulder, so too have the Sisters walked with those in need – whatever and wherever those needs are.

You have helped them do this. In this holy season, I hope you will continue to do so.

Countless school children are in a better place because of your generosity, as are countless villagers, as are more than a few young women an ocean afar, women who this Christmas live in health because of a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur capturing toads through the African night.




Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN


With you, we change lives

With the support of generous friends like you, we are able to continue our mission of educating and taking a stand with those in poverty— especially women and children.

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