“Pay attention the voice of the spirit within you.” – St. Julie Billiart
As Sister Yvonne Bondi, SNDdeN, remembers it, Sisters had always been a part of her life.
As a child, Sister Yvonne and her brother John went to Sacred Heart School and later she attended Notre Dame High School—both in San Jose, Calif.
“The Sisters inspired me," she says. "They projected happiness and were always kind.”
While these traits kindled her desire to become a Sister, her parents weren’t keen on the idea, but finally relented, saying, “if that will make you happy, try it, but remember you can always come home.”
Yvonne entered the convent in 1953, right after graduating high school. “It was a nudge from God, that’s for sure,” she recalls. “It wasn’t my making or my decision.” Later, as Sister Marie Denise, she began teaching at Notre Dame Girls’ School in San Francisco.
Sister Yvonne is ever thankful that in those early days of teaching, she had good mentors and experienced Sisters who knew the ropes.
She would later become that good mentor to others. As Shyrl McCormick remembers:
“Sister Yvonne was a good friend and mentor when she was the principal of St. Louise de Marillac School in Covina, Calif. I was a junior high school teacher (1968-1970), and her kindness and support meant so much. Under her leadership I got to initiate all kinds of things that helped me develop professionally.”
In 1974, she had the opportunity to take advantage of the Mini-Arc spiritual renewal program in Rome. In the post-Vatican II rapidly changing world, Sister says, “It was good for me to take part in this program and see that our Sisters are part of a bigger picture with a global vision.”
After Rome, Sister Yvonne was sent to Holy Family School in Hawaii and served there, first as a teacher, and then, from 1976 – 1981, as co-principal with Sister Louise O’Reilly. Sister Yvonne immediately fell in love with the beauty and culture of the islands.
In all, Sister Yvonne taught for 38 years in 12 different schools. “I taught for many years. I was in administration for 17 of the 38 years in which I taught,” she recalls, “they were happy years. I can’t point out any one that I liked better than the other. I can see God’s hand in every place that I was.” She is thankful for the wide variety of places and experiences she has had in her life.
After full-time teaching, Sister Yvonne became a member of the staff at Notre Dame House of Prayer in Carmel, Calif. During those years, she was the Co-Coordinator of the Notre Dame Associates. She also received training in spiritual direction and began companioning others on their spiritual journeys.
Today, Sister Yvonne keeps very active serving as a spiritual director and the coordinator for the Sisters' Mission Appeals program.
She also volunteers at Samaritan House, where she helps prepare meals for homeless people.
Looking back at these past decades as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, she is thankful for the wonderful companionship she has enjoyed. “This way of life you can’t do by yourself,” she says. “I am so grateful to be part of the SNDdeN community and for all the other people who have come into my life. I have learned that family extends to the whole world.”
Watch Sister Yvonne's reflection on hope, taken at the time of her 70th Jubilee, here:
1956-1958 – Notre Dame Elementary School, San Francisco, Calif. Teacher, Grades 3 & 4
1958-1960 – Madonna del Sasso School, Salinas, Calif. Teacher, Grade 3
1960-1962 – St.Joseph Elementary School , Alameda, Calif. Teacher, Grade 3
1962- 1964 – Junipero Serra School, Carmel, Calif. Teacher, Grades 6 & 8
1964-1965 – St.Mark School, Seattle, Wash. Teacher, Grade 8
1965-1968 – Notre Dame School, Chico, Calif. Teacher, Grade 8
1968- 1973 – St. Louise de Marillac School, Covina , Calif. Principal, Grade 5
1973-1975 – Sacred Heart School, Saratoga, Calif. Teacher, Grade 6
1974 – Summer Renewal Program- Mini-Arc Program, Rome, Italy
1975-1976 – Holy Family School, Honolulu, Hawaii Teacher, Grade 4
1976-1981 – Holy Family School, Honolulu, Hawaii Principal
1981-1982 – Most Holy Trinity School, San Jose, Calif. Teacher, Grade 8
1982-1984 – House of Prayer, Carmel, Calif. Staff
1984-1991 – Sacred Heart School, Salinas, Calif. Principal
1991-1992 – Sabbatical Year, Study / 30 Day Retreat
1992-1996 – St. Elizabeth Seton School, Palo Alto, Calif. Teacher, Grade 6