Faith Life and Catholic Identity
For over a century in Kansas City, Notre Dame de Sion School has been a Catholic, independent school inviting and inspiring students to love learning, think creatively and critically, serve their neighbor, discover their unique gifts, deepen their faith, and regard individuality as one of life’s greatest gifts. Students, faculty and staff members of all faith traditions learn from one another. Through its association with the Congregation of Notre Dame de Sion, our school is one of 17 Sion schools internationally, all of which share the same dynamic mission:
- commitment to the Catholic Church
- to building a world of peace, justice and love
- to exposing and educating its students to not just learn about the rich variety of faith traditions and cultures in the world but also to interact with people whose beliefs and practices are different from their own.
Valuing the worth and dignity of each person permeates the culture and atmosphere of the school and is reflected in the loving, nurturing relationships that form among the faculty, staff, volunteers, parents, students, and visiting Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion.
Letter from the Mission Director
Welcome to Sion: a unique school, part of an international community of Catholic schools that share a mission of inclusion and celebration of the gifts of every individual! When I came to Sion in 1999, as a part-time photography teacher, I had never heard the word “charism” before. I remember asking our former Mission Director, Kay Walkup, what it meant and she replied thoughtfully, “heart work – call from God.” She was referring to the vocation unique to the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion. Simply put, the order’s charism reflects a threefold, life-long commitment: to the Church, to the Jewish people, and to building a world of peace, justice, and love. While there were no longer any Sisters working on either Kansas City campus at the time, they paid us visits, often from far off places like Canada, Poland, and Jerusalem. I am still learning what this incredible charism entails, and just what it is that makes Sion so very different from other private, independent, or Catholic schools. One of my favorite quotes from our founder, Fr. Theodore Ratisbonne, is “Each tree in an orchard must be treated according to its individuality.” This sums up much of what it means to be a teacher at Sion where people of all faith traditions are welcomed and encouraged to learn from one another. We have the privilege of being able to share the biblical perspective of the “love God has for each person in his/her uniqueness and for each people in its distinctiveness” (Constitution of the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, 15.4).
This summer, I was invited to make a commitment as an Associate of the congregation and meet a number of Sisters of Sion at their annual gathering of the Canada/U.S. Assembly, held in a retreat center overlooking the Saskatoon River, in Saskatchewan. Many of the congregation members from North America grew up on the Canadian prairie and were sent to the Sion boarding school there in Saskatoon, where several made their vows. I was so impressed by the rugged independence of each Sister, and with the way all of them are earnestly living out the charism, often spending years working alone, or with one or two other religious, sometimes from different orders, pursuing peace and justice. Several Sisters lead centers for Interfaith relations or Jewish-Christian dialogue; are published scholars, professors and teachers; work as missionaries; or lobby for NGOs like Unanima at the U.N. These industrious powerhouses inspire others to take their charism out into the world, and were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. They fight tirelessly for hundreds of causes and are “rock stars” for justice: for groups of indigenous peoples, the homeless, the voiceless, and the oppressed.
I feel very fortunate to be one of the lay liaisons with the Sisters of Sion, and with the other 16 Sion schools throughout the world, committed to their mission. Check out the interactive map on this website for the locations of all of our other schools and for the links to different groups of Sisters of Sion. Please let me know your ideas about how we can better connect our students with the Sisters and with other members of the international Sion community united by this incredible charism which is, truly, a work of HEART!
Grace, Peace, and Shalom,
Penny Selle, Mission Director
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