Laudato Si’ in the Catholic school

by Sister Limeteze Pierre-Gilles

“…some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold” (Matthew 13:8)

Two School Sisters of Notre Dame holding a basket of fruit.

Sisters Limeteze Pierre-Gilles (left) and Cathy Bonfield (right)

Recently this hopeful scripture passage came to life for me in a new way. Sister Cathy Bonfield, a teacher at Saint Martha Catholic School in Sarasota, Florida, and Tammi Peters, the school counselor, invited me to their school for Catholic Schools Week. Being with the entire school community and talking about my ministry with Beyond Borders as a School Sister of Notre Dame was an all-encompassing vocation story.

I was privileged to be in the field at St. Martha and St. Mary Academy with a delightful crowd of students from three-year-olds to eighth graders. The rich soil was their young minds and hearts that were open to learn about Haiti and Laudato Si’. We focused in particular on the gift of water and the ways in which the people of Lagonav Island struggle to gain access to water for their daily needs.

I also had the opportunity to share the story of how I was attracted to the School Sisters of Notre Dame and eventually became a religious sister. The word vocation cannot be easily explained to students who are three and four years old or in kindergarten and first grade, but by second grade they began to have some idea of its meaning. The seed of God’s Word has fallen on the rich soil of their hearts. So, I am confident that all the students will grow up to produce fruit of justice, compassion and love a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold as they move forward and answer the call of their particular vocation.

The children asked such provocative questions! They exhibit the qualities of the rich soil that Jesus talked about in the Gospel. Their attentiveness and understanding were exemplary. The world they live in, and the world inhabited by some of the families we work with on Lagonav Island may seem like two different worlds, but through Laudato Si’, the letter Pope Francis wrote to each of us, they understand that everything is connected. Every person, everything, everywhere is connected. We are all related.

I am grateful to the staff who patiently and lovingly continue to cultivate in the students their young hearts and their curiosity about the world around them. The children, their teachers and their parents are signs of God’s promise of an abundant harvest.

Sister Limeteze Pierre-Gilles, SSND, is the Assistant Director of Engagement at Beyond Borders.

Sister Limeteze addresses a group of students at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota, Florida.

Sister Limeteze answers students questions about Haiti.

Sister Limeteze shares her vocation story with students at St. Martha’s Catholic School in Sarasota, Florida.