2021 Mother's Day

Sharing Our Mothers' Stories

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From Our Mother on the dome to the moms and mother figures in our lives, the Notre Dame family takes every opportunity to celebrate our matriarchs. This Mother’s Day, the Notre Dame Alumni Association has compiled past We Are ND stories from women in the Notre Dame community who describe their experiences with motherhood, adoption and fostering; open up about hardships and triumphs; and share how they are empowering others to be the best they can be. 

2021 We Are ND Mother’s Day Collection

Building a Catholic Worker Community in Charlottesville by Josh Stowe
Laura and Steve Brown ’95 have found a way to welcome others into their home. Upon returning home from South America — where their family had volunteered with Maryknoll Lay Missioners — they moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, to start a Catholic Worker community called Casa Alma that serves families in need of affordable housing.

Changing the World, One Child at a Time by Amanda Pilarski
Paul ’80 and Cindy Stark ’81 have graciously welcomed a total of 48 foster children into their home through the Healing the Children program, in which children travel to the United States for pro bono medical procedures not available in their home countries. Despite caring for four children of their own, the Starks have shouldered the care of many others in need.

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The Binds That Tie: On Motherhood and Social Distancing by Laura Kelly Fanucci
Laura Kelly Fanucci ’03 writes about the importance of leaning on those close to you, especially in times of social distancing. She continues to learn from her friends about parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Redefining Support for Parents of Children with Chronic Illness by Maura Sullivan Hill
Laura (Heim) Spiegel ’02 started Paint Her in Color, a support site for parents of kids with special health care needs. Spiegel’s daughter has cystic fibrosis, but she strives to “paint her in color” and not define her by her illness.

Storytellers Share Their Faith with Children by Maura Sullivan Hill
Lisa Hendey ’85 wrote her children’s book, I Am God’s Storyteller, to empower children to learn about faith and spread God’s love. She also founded CatholicMom.com, providing spiritual resources for moms and families.

Helping Families to Pay for Adoptions by Maura Sullivan Hill
Katie (Connell) Heaps ’06, ’08 M.Ed. directs the nonprofit Gift of Adoption, arranging adoptions both in the United States and internationally. They not only help children find homes but also help with adoption expenses.

She Embraced a Family Tradition of Adoption by Maura Sullivan Hill
Annie (Manuszak) Johnson ’01 and her three siblings were adopted, inspiring her and her husband to adopt, too. Johnson also founded Family TREE in South Bend to provide therapy and other resources for helping parents troubleshoot their kids’ behavioral and sensory issues.

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Chicago Mom Saved Children’s School from Closing by Maura Sullivan Hill
Elisabeth (Heard) Greer ’95 not only saved her childrens’ school from closing after two years of leading protests, but also co-founded nonprofit Chicago United for Equity (CUE) to fight segregation in Chicago public schools and promote racial justice.

Sisters Team Up to Prevent Childhood Blindness by Josh Stowe
Kara (Lunch) Ciocca ’93 and Megan (Lynch) Webber ’90 started their nonprofit, Know the Glow, to help raise awareness about dangerous eye conditions in children so parents can receive a timely diagnosis.

Sharing Grief, Sharing Healing by Renee Peggs
After a high-risk pregnancy and the loss of her twin daughters following an emergency C-section, Laura Kelly Fanucci ’03 started a blog and scripture study as a forum for herself and others to talk about loss.

Helping Moms Choose Life by Maura Sullivan Hill
Monica (Gardner) Flynn ’88 considers motherhood her greatest gift, so she founded a nonprofit to help both mothers and children after birth with career and education planning, emotional and spiritual support, therapy, and financial assistance.

Show Gives Voice to Women’s Stories by Josh Stowe
Noelle Elliot created The Mamalogues in South Bend, staged readings of women’s stories in order to promote empathy and empower women. She was inspired by her experience opening up to friends about her postpartum depression.

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They Had No Mother. She Stepped In. by Amanda Pilarski
Becky (Klein) Hinkel ’01 took her husband and two young kids to the Orphanage Emmanuel in Honduras, forming lasting bonds with the children. Originally staying a week, they next returned for three months and consider these kids part of their family.

A Chosen Life by Maura Sullivan Hill
Lyneè Urban ’08 is an entrepreneur and mother of three, managing a nutritional lifestyle coaching business and a stress management and business consulting service for other “mompreneurs.”

The Assignment of a Lifetime by Amanda Pilarski
After her son became paralyzed, Judy O’Connor ’76 helped him earn his MBA at Chapman University. She earned an honorary MBA, and the two now run the O’Connor Foundation for Progress, a nonprofit that helps people with similar injuries