School Sisters of Notre Dame
School Sisters of Notre Dame is a worldwide religious institute of Roman Catholic sisters devoted to primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. Their life in mission centers on prayer, community life and ministry. The sisters uphold their congregation's founding vision that education has the power to transform the world, and they do so in a variety of ways, serving as teachers, administrators, lawyers, accountants, nurses, therapists, social workers, pastoral ministers, social justice advocates and much more.
Founding and growth
The institute was founded in Bavaria in 1833 during a time of poverty and illiteracy. Its founder, Caroline Gerhardinger, known by the religious name of Mary Theresa of Jesus, formed a community with two other women in Neunburg vorm Wald to teach the poor.
In 1847, Blessed Theresa and five companion sisters traveled to the United States to aid German immigrants, especially girls and women. That same year, the sisters staffed schools in three German parishes in Baltimore, Maryland: St. James, St. Michael, and St. Alphonsus, as well as opening the Institute of Notre Dame, a private school for German girls. Eventually the Congregation spread across the United States and into Canada, ultimately forming 8 North American Provinces.
The original rule of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, approved by Pope Pius IX in 1865, allowed Blessed Theresa and her successors, instead of local bishops, to govern the institute. The main motherhouse was moved from Neunburg vorm Wald to Munich in 1843 and remained there until the 1950s. Today, the Generalate of the Congregation can be found in Rome, Italy.
678 members of the institute in the U.S. are participating in the Nun Study, a longitudinal study of aging and Alzheimer's disease initiated in 1986. The homogeneous life style of the sisters makes them an ideal study population. Convent archives have been made available to investigators as a resource on the history of participants. Of the 677 sisters which include Sister Kathleen Treanor, 93 and Sister Antoine Daniel, 96, only 61 surviving sisters recently completed their last rounds of intellectual and physical tests for the Nun Study. The sisters agreed to donate their brains to science. They acknowledged the success to David Snowdon, an epidemiology professor at the University of Minnesota in 1986. In 1992, he administered annual memory and cognitive tests to 678 sisters ranging in age from 75 to 102.
- Maria Stanisia
- Academia del Perpetuo Socorro
- Colegio Católico Notre Dame
- Institute of Notre Dame
- Notre Dame of Maryland University