Sturdy Roots

The Founding Mothers and Fathers of The School Sisters of Notre Dame

Blessed Mary Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger
June 20, 1797 - May 9, 1879)

"Longing for the oneness of all in God, grounded the congregation in Eucharist, anchored it in poverty, and dedicated it to Mary. A woman of faith, ever seeking God's will, she struggled for unity in our international community and responded to urgent needs, preferring the poor and educating with a world vision. In these gifts of the Spirit to our foundress, Mother Theresa, we recognize the evolving charism of our congregation."

Prologue, You Are Sent, p. 17-18

When Bishop Wittmann and Fr. Francis Sebastian Job saw Caroline Gerhardinger grow into a compassionate and competent young woman, they invited her to teach in the Stadtamhof School. Her gifts were evident. At the same time she felt a strong contemplative call and was attracted to a Carmelite community. However, her strong sense of Mission and desire to educate needy girls led her to form a small community. Her only desire was to do God's will. Fr. Job drew up the first Rule, The Spirit of the Constitutions of the Poor School Sisters of Notre Dame. This followed Peter Fourier's Rule for the Canonesses and was based on the Rule of Augustine for women.

On November 16, 1835, Mother Theresa made her first and final vows. She was weeping so much that Fr. Siegert had to take her vow formula and read it for her. FR. MATTHIAS SIEGERT (1804 - 1879) was a diocesan priest and lifelong friend of Mother Theresa. He was her confidant, educational consultant, and strong support throughout some very difficult years. He died on May 28, 1879, just three weeks after her death.

The first novices were received in Neunburg vorm Wald on April 10, 1836. The first Holy Rule was approved by Rome on July 13, 1859. It promoted a unified community through a General Superior who was Mother Theresa. This form of government was unusual because there was no male director over her. It cost her deep suffering and later was added to Canon Law as a new option for governance.
The SSND Family Tree
The Holy Trinity
St. Anthony of the Desert
St. Augustine
St. Peter Fourier
Blessed Alix LeClerc
Bishop Michael Wittmann
Fr. Francis Sebastian Job
Blessed Mary Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger
Mother Caroline Friess
The Living Coomunity
The SSND Family Tree in Artistic Form

© Judith Best, SSND - 2010 - School Sisters of Notre Dame
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