"I told her I couldn’t because I wanted to be a sister - something I hadn’t consciously given thought to,” said Sister Gloria. “That moment was the beginning of my conscious discernment, but I feel strongly it was growing before then.”
After finding the contact information for the School Sisters of Notre Dame in a Catholic magazine, she wrote to the sisters and received an invitation to visit whenever she could. Eventually, she took them up on that offer and traveled to Mkar, Nigeria, for an impromptu visit. She said she was warmly received and that experience inspired her to continue her discernment with the SSNDs.
“In my experience of living religious life in community I have been richly blessed and challenged to grow in my journey to God,” Sister Gloria said. “One of the blessings that I have received is that of being a learner in the school of my everyday life. This calls me to a continuous openness to be a learner in every way. To learn to pray, to love and to serve God and humanity – this in itself is challenging especially in our world of today, but the grace and blessings of community surpass its challenge in many ways.”
Sister Gloria currently is a social worker at the Notre Dame Children Outreach in Nyalieng'a, Kenya.
Sister Magdalene Philip Umoh
professed in july 2013
Sister Magdalene Philip Umoh remembers that she first thought of becoming a sister when she was about 11 years old. But it was not until she attended Notre Dame Girls Secondary School in Nigeria that she first met School Sisters of Notre Dame.
“I was first attracted to SSND by the way the sisters who taught me approached their ministry,” Sister Magdalene said. “I had the privilege of experiencing the transformative way of educating and so I am one of the beneficiaries of our formal education. It was then that I experienced their life of simplicity, love and unity among a diversity of nationalities."
Sister Magdalene said she has been enriched by the cultural differences of living in community with sisters from other areas.
“In all this, celebrating Eucharist every day has been a gift, great support and encouragement in my faith journey as a School Sister of Notre Dame,” Sister Magdalene said.
“The gift of ministry has put me closely in touch with the heart of the poor, calling me forth to share myself in love with them. It often challenges me to first minister to myself by discerning my motivation, knowing it flows from a sacred place to love and serve and not seek for self gratification and satisfaction.”
Sister Magdalene teaches chemistry, biology and health science at St. Mathew’s Junior and Senior Secondary School in Bumbuna, Sierra Leone.
Sister Vera Owoh
professed in june 2013
Sister Vera Nnenna Owoh’s heritage as an Igbo, part of an ethnic group of southeastern Nigeria, has gifted her with a strong understanding of unity and diversity, which she brings to the international congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
“Among the various Igbo languages and dialects,” Sister Vera said, “there is a general Igbo that is understood by all the Igbos, used for the sake of oneness. This gives the Igbos a great sense of unity and belonging. Through this I learned unity in diversity. I bring this gift to our international congregation.”
Sister Vera said it was her family that planted deep faith in her as they always prayed together each morning.
“My yearning for God happened during my first year in college,” Sister Vera said. “Since I had other plans for myself, I did not pay attention to it even though it kept coming. Then I received an invitation to attend a final vow of a friend. Throughout the Mass, my heart was burning with a great desire to offer my life the same way these women did. That was my turning point and led me to my journey with SSND.
“The first time I visited an SSND community, three things stood out for me: their hospitality, simplicity and their life in community. I said to myself, ‘I would love to join them in their mission.’”
Sister Vera is a nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital in Uyo, Nigeria. Her primary responsibilities include health education and identifying special needs for the women and girls.