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SSND teach by example

Meet our donor Helen Addison

Sisters Collette Kraus and Judy Bourg along with Helen Addision and Sister Collette's sister pose for a photo at St. Mary of the Pines in Chatawa, Mississippi. When I was in eighth grade, a friend whose sister attended St. Mary of the Pines (SMP) in Chatawa, Mississippi, asked if I would consider attending with her for high school. I made a visit with my family and I felt the spirit of the place in the air. So, in 1960, I became a boarding school student. I loved the life in the dorms, school, interacting with many different students from different backgrounds and the sisters. The sisters were always available for help with school, long walks or other recreational activities like tennis, boating or swimming. My fondest memories were spent in the stables with my horse and Sister Theresa Dietz, who watched over the horses. The School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) charism was what the students and I experienced each and every day. From the sisters in the classrooms, in the kitchen baking fresh cookies every day or in the laundry room, the Gospel was spoken through their actions. They taught by example. It was a wonderful experience that has stayed with me all my life.

After much reflection, in 1964, I entered the Dallas Province as a novitiate. I received a great college education, lived in community with sisters and other novitiates and even taught in elementary schools. In 1972, I felt a call to leave the novitiate to teach in schools in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. I left with a grateful heart and the sisters were understanding, kind, caring, generous and loving. The next chapter of my life started in 1987, when a friend and I started community homes for the disabled. After working as a principal in a large facility for the disabled, I saw the need for more community involvement, understanding and acceptance. I worked in these homes full time until I was in my 70s, when I retired. After opening and operating six community homes throughout Louisiana, I look back and feel so blessed by the values instilled in me by SSND. Their love and compassion inspired me to give back and offer the same care for the clients who came to live in my community homes.

Liliana Lizano, SMP alum, S. Theresa Dietz and Helen Addison pose for a photo at St. Mary of the Pines in Chatawa, Mississippi.

If I had to sum up the charism of the sisters, I would say their faithfulness to their vocation, their Christian charity to all, their continuing efforts to serve the poor in every situation they may find themselves and their generosity shine through. As a friend, I have watched so many sisters at SMP embrace retirement by starting a tutoring program for the needy, tutoring high school students, photographing nature, making cards to be sold, operating a hobby shop to sell beautiful needle crafts, art work, rosaries and many other items, serving on local church and school boards and actively participating in public library programs. The sisters live the Gospel values in the spirit of SSND and continue to serve with a happy heart.

Since I live only 45 minutes from SMP, I was able to visit weekly. I continue to maintain personal relationships with many sisters. When I was able to visit, we would cook crawfish étouffée, shrimp creole or boiled shrimp and enjoy the afternoon and evenings together. In more recent times, I brought strawberries, candies, pastries or steaks since the population there is much smaller with their transition to Covington, Louisiana. I will continue to visit them in their new location once visitation restrictions are lifted due to COVID-19.

Consider joining Helen by honoring SSND in your estate plans.

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