Meet Associate Chenna Bonequi

I have been so blessed by the influence of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in my life. I began my “association” with the Sisters when I entered first grade at Notre Dame Elementary School in San Francisco. I spent my entire grade school and high school career under their wonderful tutelage. Then I went off to college at U.C. Berkeley and my connection with the Sisters ended.

After college, I worked in the corporate world for more than 40 years. In my last position with a Palo Alto firm, I felt I had a secure job until it was time for me to retire. Then the firm “restructured,” and I was told that I could either move with my department to Wisconsin or be part of a voluntary lay-off. Moving was not an option!

About this time I had been doing some spiritual work attempting to determine what direction I wanted my life to take. I wrote out some goals and values on a 3 x 5 card. I tucked the card into my wallet and began carrying it with me at all times.

While looking for full time employment in 1998, I took some temp jobs. I got a call from the agency one day after I had worked at an insurance company doing some boring, low-paying tasks. The agent told me that because I had taken that job and helped them out in a crunch, he wanted to offer me the “reward” of an assignment with the Sisters of Notre Dame. This was to be just until they could find someone to fill the job permanently. This began my providential reconnection with Sisters.

I continue to work with the Sisters (now in the finance department) and in 2006 I became an Associate of Notre Dame and truly live out the goals and values I wrote on that 3 x 5 card so many years ago! It tickles me to know that I can be part of accomplishing St. Julie Billiart’s mission; standing with the poor, especially women and children, in the most abandoned places and making known God’s goodness to our world. I have had the opportunity to spread the word of the good work the Sisters are doing in Africa and Central and South America by speaking in parishes throughout California for the past three years. I have also helped Sisters and other Associates in the Zimbabwe Project. Donating goods to be sent, money toward the cost of the postage expense and assisting in preparing the packages for shipping makes me feel that I am contributing in a concrete way to the survival of the Sisters in Zimbabwe and the people they help.

To be connected with Sisters in the Associate program is a blessing and a gift. The fact that all the wonderful women in the congregation are images of God’s goodness in this world was no small factor in my reaching this decision to become an Associate. Now I feel that my involvement as an Associate has also helped me surround myself with another group of beautiful women who have the mission and charism of Notre Dame as a firm structure in their lives.