Facebook IconInstagram IconSpotify

Advent 2020: A new perspective

By Sister Lynne Schmidt, Provincial Councilor
Lynne Schmidt, SSND

Be watchful. Prepare. In past years, we begin Advent with a good sense of how we will prepare for Christmas. We think about what gifts we will get for family and friends. We select some prayers or activities we will do to prepare for Christ’s coming. We decorate our homes and churches. We develop our personal and family traditions.

2020 is different. We’ve already adapted our Thanksgiving customs, and now we are considering how to celebrate Christmas. We are living in a time of global uncertainty. We are concerned about COVID-19. How will we celebrate Christmas with family and friends? Can we safely go to church for Mass on Christmas? Will we feel confident we can travel safely? Will shut downs at care facilities be lifted so we can visit there? What will be the results of the deep divisions and lack of civility we have in our country? How can we work for peace and nonviolence? How can we effectively bring about racial justice? Equality for all people? Compassion and care for all those who are suffering? How can we restore our alliances with other countries? What are the ways we can address climate change and promote greater care for creation? Can the present trends be reversed, or have we gone too far already? And most basic: how can we open our hearts to care deeply for others, to become loving, compassionate people, a Gospel people? This is the challenge of the Incarnation of Christ among us, of Christ transforming all creation, that we face this Advent season.

We, School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), including the provincial council, are pondering many of the same questions you are this Advent season. How is God calling us to prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming - Christ’s presence, in our world?

SIsters at Our Lady of Good Counsel take part in Pickleball.

Some ways we can prepare for this Advent season include a response to the urgent needs in our world today. Various province committees work to educate us and call us to action. For example, the Care of Creation committee is focused on issues related to the climate crisis. Another Care of Creation work group, continues to share a number of ways people’s behaviors affect the health of the earth, such as, the extensive use of plastics that are disastrously polluting our oceans and landfills. The Racial Justice committee challenges us to examine the privileges those of us who are white take for granted and to choose actions that respond to injustices through personal, provincial and systemic avenues. Some other groups inform us about human trafficking and peace/nonviolence issues. We listen to the experiences of our sisters working directly with immigrants and to the committee that researches this and related topics. These are a few of our province activities. Material on any of these topics is readily available. Advent would be a good time to read and reflect on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ . These world concerns are some ways we might be called to celebrate the Incarnation, Christ’s being born into our world today.

In this time of pandemic, we sisters, like many of you, have learned to adapt how we respond to needs and how we continue to do the work that is entrusted to us. Videoconferencing is central to our work. The provincial council continues to carry out the decisions that were made at our all-province assembly several years ago, particularly regarding divestiture of our properties.

Here is an update for each North American Central Pacific Province location:

  • St. Mary of the Pines (SMP), Chatawa, Mississippi: Most of the sisters moved to St. Anthony’s Gardens in Covington, Louisiana, in fall 2019. The remaining sisters moved to the skilled care facility, Trinity Trace: Community Care Center this past October. The sisters who stayed at SMP, to help during this past year, have returned to their communities. The property has a prospective buyer who plans to use it as a retreat center. We ask for your prayers that this transaction will proceed smoothly and quickly.

  • Notre Dame of Elm Grove (NDEG), Elm Grove, Wisconsin: The building of Trinity Woods, the joint project of Mount Mary University, Milwaukee Catholic Home and SSND, is proceeding. The planned date for the sisters to move to their new home is fall 2021. This facility will include affordable senior housing, apartments for students with small children and a day care center.

  • Sancta Maria in Ripa (SMR), St. Louis: The work group is studying proposals from several developers and hopes to have one selected by early next year.

  • Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC), Mankato, Minnesota: The work group is in conversation with several health care providers and realtors regarding future ownership and development.

The Central Pacific Province will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in June of 2021. Sisters across the province are meeting in small groups to suggest ways we might celebrate and a volunteer committee has been formed to lead us in the festivities. You will be hearing more about this as plans are finalized. Please rejoice with us and thank God for the many gifts we have been given.

Thanks to each of you for your continued faithfulness and support of SSND and our mission. We are grateful that you join with us “to proclaim the good news…directing our entire lives toward that oneness for which Jesus Christ was sent.” (You Are Sent, C 4)

May Advent offer a bit of quiet time for all of us to reflect on the meaning and challenge of Christ’s continuing birth within and among us. The world awaits the coming of Christ through us in these unusual and uncertain times. Christmas peace and joy to all!


Want to learn more?


School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



© 2022 School Sisters of Notre Dame