By Sister Eileen Burns, SNDdeN
Since 1959, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) have cared for over 170 acres of land in Ipswich, Massachusetts—a beautiful expanse of rolling hills, wetlands and marsh, brooks, ponds and natural springs.
As faithful stewards of the land, the SNDdeN seek out opportunities to engage and build relationships with the local community. What began as a reading and tutoring center in the former dairy barn is today the Cuvilly Arts and Earth Center, offering community programs that integrate education, a working farm and ecological justice programming. Next to Cuvilly, non-profit organization Three Sisters Garden Project works “to make local food accessible to all” while promoting sustainable agriculture. Further up the drive is the Notre Dame Spirituality Center where the SNDdeN host spiritual and educational programs, as well as a home for retired Sisters, and Province and Congregation administrative offices.
Long before Europeans arrived in the early 17th century, this diverse land was home to the Pawtucket tribe of Native Americans. To ensure it remains forever protected, under the Ipswich Province Leadership of Mary Boretti, SNDdeN, Mary Farren, SNDdeN, and Andrea Walsh, SNDdeN, the SNDdeN partnered with the Essex County Greenbelt, the Town of Ipswich Open Space Committee, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to create a Land Trust that “permanently protects [70 acres of] its unique natural resources from habitat destruction, wildlife displacement and pollution.”
Sister Eileen Burns, SNDdeN, member of the East-West Province Leadership Team said, “As educators and women of prayer, we continue to be attentive to the ‘cries of the earth.’ As contemplatives in action, we understand that in collaboration with others we can do amazing things to reveal the goodness of God and the goodness and preciousness of God’s beautiful world.”