2024 Summer Appeal

I’ve heard it said that in old age we are as a bundle of letters delivered upon the doorstep. We are no longer in the past, but have arrived.

I have seen this arrival in the faces of the many Sisters in our Mount Notre Dame Health Center. For a stranger, perhaps there would only seem present a collection of elderly women, some in wheelchairs, some on walkers. Oh, but do I know better!

For in the face of each of these Sisters are so many letters having arrived. There have been letters looking down in the African night upon schools run by our Sisters, schools surrounded by razor wire and hired guards.

I see a weary and mosquito-bit Sister walking vague paths through the Amazon, all alone, that she might teach scripture. I see a Sister in an endless shantytown providing medical care to a family stricken with AIDS.

I see a Sister who for more than 60 years of mornings corrals a classroom into order. I see a Sister who visits prisoners who will not see freedom again.

All these things I see as if in letters having been delivered by old age itself. I don’t see wheelchairs, nor walkers nor even diminishment. Instead I see the heroic accomplishments of people I love.

This, I’m willing to bet, is not something exclusive to me. In your own life, in a lined face you have known since perhaps he or she was young (or younger), you don’t see age so much as all those things you love. You see the strengths, the experiences, the sacrifices and even the vulnerabilities that mysteriously draw us even closer.

So with this note I come to you to ask your support for those eldest Sisters in our Notre Dame family who on this particular day – at this point in time – are in need of our care.

The Mount Notre Dame Health Center was built a quarter-century ago. It’s been meticulously maintained. But a quarter-century is a long time for bricks and mortar and windows and plumbing and all the things that go into a home. Systems for heating and cooling have long outlived the production of their constituent parts. Safety systems such as for smoke and fire have antiquated. Embedded technologies for staff, including our nurses, are from another era. (Think of the phone you used 25 years ago.)

We are a family at Mount Notre Dame. Those bundles of letters are read by us all, and all our names thread through them much as supporting characters in a novel. These grounds where now our elders live are for many the same grounds they walked upon as teenagers, either as students or novices. They know one another today as old but knew one another equally at their lives’ outset. There is something to that; there is something that binds. I have seen Sisters sitting in their wheelchairs not talking, nor taking part in any seen thing, but who simply hold hands into the evening. This is who they are to one another.

Mount Notre Dame is to us hallowed ground. The convent, of which the Health Center is a part, is where we were young and where we are old. We have been Sisters of Notre Dame together, and we have been sisters as family together. Those bundles of letters may go unnoticed by strangers, but we see them clearly. They rest stacked and tied in the laps of those we so love.

As you are able, please make a gift in support of our Mount Notre Dame Health Center.


Sister 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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