Conversations with Sisters on Campus

Every Wednesday for the remainder of the semester, 1804 Society members will be highlighting a Sister of Notre Dame De Namur that is currently present on campus. These remarkable women will be sharing more about their ministries and involvement with Emmanuel College.

Today we have a conversation with Sister Barbara Gutierrez, Campus Minister

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What led you to join the Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur?

“There was a feeling that something was missing in my life. I had a good human resources career, I had been working four eight years in the US and I had a good job and good opportunities. Because I am bilingual and bi-cultural, I would get phone calls from head-hunters offering me jobs twice a year, which was encouraging. I had a marriage proposal and I realized I did not love my boyfriend to the point to get married, so I ended the relationship. It seemed I had what most people consider “great” in life, but something was missing. I decided to switch jobs and I took an offer in Boston. I told myself it was a new beginning and I would be open to anything that would happen to me, because I wanted to find my purpose in life. I think because of this openness, it was while packing to move to Boston in 2001 that I got “my call” to religious life. I denied this feeling at the beginning and went back and forth about it until I seriously started discerning this call. After four years I join the SNDs.”

Why did you choose the Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur over another religious orders?

“When I started researching about female religious congregations, it was clear to me that if I would enter religious life, it would be with an apostolic congregation. This is, a group that works directly with the people they serve. The SNDs do this. I was impressed by the way the sisters have evolved to serve those in need. They went from been school educators to work with immigrants, refugees, homeless, women rescued from human trafficking, and abused children among other people in need. SNDdeN is a certified NGO and one of us works in the United Nations. All this impressed me and excited me to the point I wanted to be part of them. They are educated women with truly big hearts ‘hearts as wide as the world'”

*What is your personal mission/ministry? How has Emmanuel College been a part of your mission/ministry?

“Currently I am completing a masters in theology and ministry. Since I joined the SNDs without a theological background this seemed like a logical and necessary step, so this is my current ministry. My other ministry is to help in Emmanuel College. I do what I can to help the Mission + Ministry group. I know my contribution is small and I try to be flexible and be present as much as I can. Once I finish my master program (this May) I am open to what God will bring to me next time. The key is in listening to God, to take the time to listen. I know God will show me where to go and give me the tools to do what is next. You all know one of my favorite phrases from Saint Julie ‘Better mistakes that paralysis’.”

What is your favorite part about Emmanuel?

“Emmanuel is a big part in my life. My ceremony when I entered as a postulant was at Emmanuel, as well as the one when I became a novice. I made my first vows here too. It is just part of my journey. Emmanuel is an amazing place filled with opportunities for so many people. It is hard to think that all started when a couple of sisters decided to provide higher education to young women almost 100 years ago… amazing! Emmanuel is special to me and my favorite parts are the students, you make Emmanuel the amazing place it is.”

How do you think the Emmanuel College community can best embody and live out the mission of the SNDs?

There are a few elements such as Catholic identity, service programs, ASB programs, etc. The service Emmanuel students provide to the community around and beyond Boston is part of the SND mission. It is important to note this is not just about the service, it is about relationships. It is the fact that Emmanuel has a strong connection with the service organizations where students volunteer. At the same time, students establish relationships with those they serve and learn about them. Gustavo Gutierrez (the Peruvian theologian father of liberation theology) says, “we cannot say we are with those living in poverty if we do not have a relationship with them, if we do not question the structures that make them poor.” I believe students at Emmanuel do this.

Another important element is education. Remember that the SNDdeN where established as an education order. All Emmanuel graduates have a responsibility because the fact that they are educated. I know all students leave Emmanuel with an awareness that education is a privilege, and that this privilege comes with the responsibility to help others. I have no doubt that all of them will serve others at some point in their lives. In different ways and at different extents but they will give back. This is about the SNDdeN mission.

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