Then and Now

The ministry of education is essential for understanding the corporate personality of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Mother Theresa’s love for children was evident in her letters. She believed education was a holy work and encouraged sisters to serve children with selfless love as exemplified in her letter regarding a convent fire.

In 1847, the first School Sisters of Notre Dame departed from Germany and arrived in New York. As immigrants themselves, their impressions of American children are insightful and humorous. Listening to an excerpt from Willa Cather's, "My Antonia," will recall the importance of good teachers to many immigrant families.

The formation and education of women as School Sisters of Notre Dame has always been a priority. The foundation of prayer, spirituality, and community formed sturdy roots as newer members grew into maturity within this religious congregation. To revisit some of this formation-education of the 1950s, consider viewing the video "God's Career Women," and read more on the creation of this film.

Since Vatican II (1962-1965) the emphasis has shifted from focusing primarily on classroom education to an understanding of education in its broadest sense. In 1965, "The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," decreed: 1. "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the {men} of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts." (Gaudium et Spes, was approved on December 7, 1965; by a vote of 2309 to 75.)

In the Graphs of Ministry, as well as the SSND websites, one can see how School Sisters of Notre Dame acted on this mandate in their ministry of education.

Facilitator Directions offer suggestions for sharing this information in a group. A guided imagery recalling one's school days begins the session: it concludes with prayer.


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