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Commemoration of Blessed Theresa’s feast day in Guam

By Hawley Iseke, Theology Department Chair and SSND associate in Guam
This is a bust of Blessed Theresa featured outside of Notre Dame High School in Guam.

As the school year for Notre Dame High School (ND) in Talofofo, Guam, comes to its end each year in May, one of the last holidays celebrated takes place on the Monday or Friday closest to May 9, Blessed Theresa’s feast day. Commonly known to the school community as ND Day to the school community, it is generally a day off. Yet, this day is much more than a holiday for our school community. It is a day for us to celebrate the woman who laid the foundation, whose life and charism came to the shores of Guam on August 10, 1949. We remember and celebrate Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger, our Foundress.

Over the last few years, the school has sought to incorporate new ways of celebrating the days leading up to May 9. We pray the Novena dedicated to Blessed Theresa each morning during school-wide prayer. In addition, we have one tradition unique to our campus - the blessing of our senior class with the sending forth prayer:

“I commend you to the Holy Spirit, through the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I entrust you forever into her blessed hands!”

The students of Notre Dame High School in Guam gather for a large group photos with sisters and staff.

This prayer ends the school day at Notre Dame, yet this special gathering is the final school-wide assembly for the seniors before baccalaureate and commencement. For our seniors, they gather in the gym for this last assembly dedicated to them and the blessing is prayed over them in smaller groups of three. Row by row, the student body surrounds the seniors, with these students extending their hands while praying this blessing. This takes place right before final exams, around late April (early May at times) and is one of the last memories and connections to Blessed Theresa and her words.

In 2021, the Blessed Theresa Club of Notre Dame sought the participation of everyone on campus for donations. Toiletries were collected and delivered to both Mercy Care, the retirement home for aged Sisters of Mercy of the Americas (the oldest religious order on Guam,) and Guma Mami, an assisted living home for persons with disabilities. A few days after May 9, these precious items were delivered with the awareness of honoring Blessed Theresa through this donation.

As an academic institution, our recalling and celebrating of our foundress is a daily occurrence, with morning prayer calling on the Blessed Trinity and imparting Blessed Theresa's blessing for children at the end of the day. These, in addition to her quotes around campus and the banner that welcomes people, allow the annual commemoration of her feast day to be a daily reality that seeks her intercession for our school community, the island of Guam, and the whole universe.

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