ÉCOLE BILINGUE NOTRE DAME DE SION, ST. LAURENT, QUÉBEC
When Barbra Goetz, a teacher at École Bilingue (www.ebnds.ca), was recently asked by a reporter what she found to be the best thing about teaching. Her reply was “hope.” She gave this answer.
“How can a school teach 'hope'? While on a daily basis we push hard that the academic benchmarks required to be bilingual in both mother tongue French and English are met, we never lose sight of our mission statement as defined by the Spirit of Sion.
Looking over a school year, it has been a year of inviting parents to celebrate the faiths of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Greek Orthodox with the children. We recycled; helped socialize a guide dog, played basketball, hockey and soccer. In after school programs, we had fun with science, piano, martial arts, and a warm environment to come 'home' to at the end of a busy school day. We wished each other a sweet new year with apples and honey, and children eagerly saved coins for Sr. Jackie's Lenten box. Our peacekeepers at recess and lunch did peer mediation. All of these activities took place in an environment of respect and celebration of the diversity that is all of us.
In June, our forty-one graduates will receive their diploma that they have worked so hard to achieve, and their gift that symbolizes the spirit of Sion. They have been taught and expected to live this spirit each day. It is the combination of these two things that gives me a great deal of 'hope'. ”
ÉCOLE BILINGUE NOTRE DAME DE SION
In 2009, the Director of the school, Veronique Lemieux-Boyer and the school fundraiser, Melissa Batchoun, went to an international conference in Chicago regarding fundraising and networking for schools. Since the school is a relatively new foundation and it is connected to an international Congregation with schools abroad, the private school organization, Quebec Association of Independent Schools chose École Bilingue as the school to go. At the conference in Chicago, each school gave a power point presentation. École Bilingue was chosen to attend the international conference in San Francisco this year because it is a member of both the English and French Associations of Independent Schools and is the only bilingual school in the French province, Quebec. www.ebnds.ca
SPRING BREAK : SION STUDENTS SHARE IN SISTERS' MINISTRIES - CHICAGO
For the third year, Sisters Mary Ellen Coombe and Stephanie Schmidts welcomed students to Chicago from Sion High School in Kansas City. This time, there were three: Lainey Koch, Meleeya Schwartz and Grace Miller. They were involved with Stephanie's inner city Insight Tutor Mentor Program computerizing the children's poetry booklet, mounting children/tutors' photos , as well as tutoring grade school children and sharing their wisdom. With Mary Ellen, they attended Bible classes in a Jewish high school and shared in exciting discussions, had lunch with the student interfaith club, enjoyed a Sabbath dinner with a family and their three daughters, and visited Friday midday prayer at a Mosque. There were lively discussions before and after these experiences. They also put their computer skills to work helping Mary Ellen develop a Power Point presentation on interreligious work.
They wrote: “We have never had so much time and so many experiences to live out interreligious respect that we have worked so hard to incorporate from our Sion education. The visits to the mosque and the Jewish high school were our first, so (hopefully) many more immersed interfaith interaction.” Grace added, “I am hoping to find a similar tutor mentor program in Kansas City to become involved in.”
Sisters Mary Ellen Coombe & Celia Deutsch at Kansas City Sion School
Sr. Celia and Sr. Mary Ellen spent a week at Notre Dame de Sion in Kansas City. They had an amazing time at both campuses visiting with students and teachers.
Monday evening would find them in the bleachers cheering for Sion Storm in their annual basketball game against St. Teresa's. They had a “screaming” good time and Sion won as well.
At the high school, Celia and Mary Ellen visited religion and peer ministry classes to talk about religious life and the Sisters of Sion – sharing stories of their life and God's call. As Sr. Celia said – it is her most favorite thing in the world to talk about. The girls responded with both warmth and curiosity.
At the grade school, they joined the Holy Ground religion classes as they celebrated “Founders Day”. The littlest ones presented them with “doves” that they made and the older children, a play about January 20th. Later they even joined a 5th grade music class and tried their hand at “drumming.”
Celia and Mary Ellen went back to Brooklyn and Chicago energized and inspired by the sharing of Sion's mission and look forward to going back next year.
GATHERINGS OF ALUMS AND FRIENDS EVEN IN PLACES WHERE SION SCHOOLS WERE CLOSED
Sion's charism is still lived, remembered and shared in cities where Sion no longer has schools! Sion schools in Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw closed several decades ago, yet every September there is a luncheon of usually ninety alums held in Saskatoon every September and organized by a former student, Shirley (Andrew) Shewchuk. Even 25th and 50th anniversaries of graduation are celebrated. It was started by Shirley, years ago when she had a reunion of her class and it has grown each year. Sr. Kay MacDonald always gives news of Sion around the world.
SHINING LIGHTS OF CHARISM: AN INTERNATIONAL GATHERING OF EDUCATORS IN SION SCHOOLS IN STRASBOURG
“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above, those who teach others in the way of righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” Dan 12:3
From July 11 – 14, 2009 eight administrators and teachers from École Bilingue NDS in Montreal and Notre Dame de Sion in Kansas City were part of seventy-two educators, mostly lay people, from twelve Sion schools worldwide. Strasbourg was Theodore's city and held much Sion history.
Stephanie Pino-Dressman, campus minister in Kansas City was overjoyed seeing “men and women with a vision of over 150 years ago. The seeds were planted and the charism lives and breathes in 18 schools internationally. We spoke many languages and yet there was a common thread that pieced us together in this amazing quilt. It was a powerful endeavor and it assured that the Sion charism will be vibrant and alive many years beyond this meeting.”
Veronique Lemieux Boyer, Principal in the Montreal school, said “ the welcome we received was with open arms and it created new ties for the future and our hearts were larger when we left.”
“Truly it was a blessings of my life (30 year career at Sion),” said Alice Munninghoff, Head of the two schools in Kansas City. “The high point for me was meeting so many committed Sion educators and how each school is alive and flourishing, thanks to the inspiration of Theodore and Alphonse.”
Kay Walkup, Academic Dean in Kansas City, exclaimed, “We were able to lay the foundation for student exchanges in Marseille, San Jose and Australia. We introduced the Sion Film Project to Worthing, Australia and Istanbul.”
Kay also joined with Barbra Goetz and Sr. Jackie Chenard, and Stephanie to visit Evry, France to see Father Theodore's little house and his burial place. A breathtaking experience!
For more on the meeting, go to www.sion.org/session_educatuers_strasbourg2.htmo
“Educate with the Hope of a Sower, the Patience of a Ploughman, and the Love of the Creator.” - Sr. Benedict nds
Alice Munninghoff, Head of the Sion Schools, Kansas City, who attended the worldwide meeting of 17 Sion Schools held in July 2009 in Strasbourg, France. Alice cited a few key points of Sister Benedict's concluding remarks in her newsletter, Sion Today,(fall 2009 issue) for the Sion school community.
“Our responsibility as Sion educators is to transmit hope of reconciliation and peace. When the congregation was founded Father Theodore and Father Alphonse wanted their schools to be accessible to all Christians, Jews, Muslims, to all believers, rich or poor.
Listening is vital to handing down traditions. It compels us to look inward. We must help students to commune with themselves quietly, to search and listen to the Holy Spirit within themselves, to learn to have an inner spiritual life and to wed mediation with actions.
At Sion, we are called to awaken our students' minds to multiculturalism, to hospitality towards others, to fight exclusion in all its shapes and forms, including racism and anti-Semitism. Interculturalism and interreligious dialogue is critical to a Sion education. We must prepare our students whatever their cultural and religious background to create a more just world, to work together for the good of all … to cross borders…to build bridges…to fulfill our Sion vocation: to speed the biblical promises of peace and justice.”
To see the full text at www.ndsion.edu/siontoday.pdf