Messages from Dr. Yam

Openness and the Situation at University of Missouri

November 14, 2015

Dear Campus Community, 
One of the foundations of our Notre Dame of Maryland University mission is to build and support inclusive and diverse communities.  This commitment has been handed down to us by our fearless and faithful School Sisters of Notre Dame for over 120 years, and we have not wavered in this.
The recent events at the University of Missouri, Columbia, are deeply saddening. We pray for healing and reconciliation for the University of Missouri community, along with other campuses which may have similar challenges.  I ask that we at Notre Dame continue to be mindful of our need to listen to one another with openness and understanding.
Building trust and respect between and amongst all members of our NDMU community is of paramount importance as we continue to honor the values and traditions set forth by our foundresses. We stand by our open door policy and always remain ready to engage in constructive dialogues and support for one another.
May we all be united in peace at Notre Dame.  
Marylou Yam, Ph.D.

Reflections on the Papal Visit

September 15, 2015

Dear Campus Community,

During the third week of September, Pope Francis will visit New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.  This is a historic visit, one that is garnering great excitement among Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who have been inspired by his ministry.  Pope Francis has been calling upon Church teaching to speak out on urgent social issues, including poverty, the health of the environment, and the plight of refugees.

Pope Francis will bring his message of love to the triennial World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Philadelphia, the first time this meeting has been held in the United States.   The meeting is a celebration of family, community, and faith, which this time carries the theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” The meeting will emphasize how love and the life of families impact society.

The Pope’s compelling messages about what love means through a societal lens recalls a passage from Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger’s writings: “United and content with little, we go out into the whole world” because “love cannot wait!”* As we anticipate the happy occasion of the Papal visit, we should remember that the love Pope Francis preaches is courageous, full of faith, and the root of action as well as of inspiration—the very lesson that the School Sisters of Notre Dame offer us through their history and their sponsorship of our University work today.

A Passion for Justice and Peace

May 2, 2015

Dear Notre Dame community,

One of the things that distinguishes Notre Dame students is their passion. They have a passion for their school. They have a passion for service and social responsibility.  And they have a passion for justice.

I was proud to see that passion displayed on Friday afternoon as students, along with faculty and staff, stood along North Charles Street in a peaceful demonstration to show how deeply they care for justice and peace in our city.

In the past few days, I have been heartened to see so many from NDMU take the initiative to unite our community and provide opportunities for dialogue and sharing. Notre Dame is known for being supportive —a place where we respect and learn from the beliefs and opinions of others. The events of the past few days demonstrate our mission: to challenge women and men to build inclusive communities and promote social responsibility.

As you take time this weekend to pause and reflect on the events of recent days and weeks, I ask you to join me in prayers for Freddie Gray and his grieving family, and for the peace and welfare of this city we love.

In peace,

Marylou Yam, Ph.D.

Collective Healing

Dear Campus Community,

With the posting this morning of criminal charges in the death of police-detainee Freddie Gray and the series of demonstrations planned across Baltimore for today and tomorrow, including a peaceful demonstration on Charles Street this afternoon by our own students, I call together the entire Notre Dame of Maryland University community to continue to pray for peace, to work for justice, and to embrace the words of our foundress to “trust and dare” in God’s plan for all people. Many in our NDMU community – and in this city we share – are suffering.

Throughout its long history, NDMU has been faithfully invested in social responsibility and justice, most especially for its people and the city around us. We must continue this work, and expand upon it. Today and in the immediate days ahead, we must draw more deeply than ever upon our belief in the power of transformation to open our minds and hearts to create change. Our community has come together in discussions, activities, and in planning for events where we listen, talk and learn. Whatever your faith tradition, I encourage you to join our prayer vigil on Monday, May 4th at 4 pm at the Peace Pole in front of Doyle Hall and to participate in a community roundtable discussion on Tuesday, May 5th (time and location forthcoming).

Our foundress, Mother Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger, also said, “Where there is peace, there is God; where God, there is every good.” By our prayers and through our actions, each of us as individuals can contribute to the collective healing of our city. 

In peace,

Marylou Yam, Ph.D.

Hope and Prayers for Baltimore

April 30, 2015

Dear Students, Faculty Members and Staff Members,

For 120 years, Notre Dame of Maryland University has been in and of Baltimore. Many of our students, faculty and staff were born and raised here. A number of our students are engaged in community service and service learning with schools, community organizations and nonprofits in the city. The events of the past week call upon us to recognize the gravity of our challenges as an urban community, as well as the strength of our common determination and optimism for the city we love. We must recognize that many in this city are feeling pain. And our deepest condolences go out to the Gray family.

There are profound social issues around the events of the week that we must attempt to understand.  In response to the turmoil and its contexts, members of our University have responded in different ways. Some students have participated peacefully in demonstrations. Students and staff have expressed themselves by painting banners proclaiming peace. Formal and informal conversations with students and faculty have taken place all week in the residence halls and classrooms. There are several more student-focused events planned over the next few days to speak to the issues at hand and to raise funds and awareness.

In my short time here, I have come to appreciate what a beautiful and wonderful city Baltimore is, with a rich history and great cultural traditions. The spasm of violence on Monday will not make Baltimore any less remarkable a city. Monday is not what will define us. Rather, how we respond to what has happened will define us. The expressions of civic pride, the willingness to volunteer to help others and the spirit of hope that characterized much of what happened city-wide on Tuesday and in the days that followed: these things can define Baltimore.

The mission of Notre Dame of Maryland University calls for building inclusive communities and promoting social responsibility. We act on our mission in a manner that is peaceful, respectful and just. This is a good time to reflect on what our mission means to each of us.

Marylou Yam, Ph.D.