School Sisters of Notre Dame

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School Sisters of Notre Dame
Abbreviation SSND
Motto Transforming the world through education
Established 1833; 184 years ago (1833)
Purpose Christian education
Region served
World-wide, 34 countries
Over 3,000
Caroline Gerhardinger
Main organ
Affiliations Roman Catholic
Website SSND

School Sisters of Notre Dame is a worldwide religious institute of Roman Catholic sisters founded in Bavaria in 1833 and devoted to primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. Their life in mission centers on prayer, community life and ministry. They serve as teachers, lawyers, accountants, nurses, administrators,[1] therapists, social workers, pastoral ministers, social justice advocates and more.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame are known by the abbreviation "SSND" and are not to be confused with another teaching order, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeM), which was founded in France.

Founding and growth[edit]

The congregation 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 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 congregation. 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.


Much of their work has been in schools,[2] but the curriculum vitae of a group of jubilarians in 2014, from a province based in St. Louis, showed a wide variety of assignments: spiritual direction, retreats, adult basic education, RCIA programs, pastoral care among Hispanics, in hospitals, and among the disadvantaged,[3] language interpreting, outreach to native Americans and to migrants (also founding an Immigrant and Refugee Women's Program), and on mission to Honduras, Hungary, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Japan.[4] Empowering underserved women has been a special effort of theirs.[5][6] Their involvement in migrant services is evidenced in their hosting at the US-Mexican border a conference for Shalom, an international network for justice, peace, and integrity of creation.[7]

In 2017 more than 3,000 School Sisters of Notre Dame were working in thirty-four countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Africa has come to produce the largest number of vocations.[8][9][10]

Nun Study[edit]

Since 1986, 678 members of the congregation in the USA have been participating in Nun Study, a longitudinal study (over a long period of time) of aging and Alzheimer's disease. The homogeneous lifestyle 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 678 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.[11]





North America[edit]

United States (including territories)

Tertiary institutions[edit]

Notable members[edit]


  1. ^ "Board of Directors & Administrators - The Sarah Community". The Sarah Community. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  2. ^ "School Sisters of Notre Dame being honored for 155 years of service in Quincy". Herald-Whig. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  3. ^ "School Sisters of Notre Dame staff 'oasis' in North Little Rock - Arkansas Catholic - October 18, 2008". Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  4. ^ "JUBILARIANS: School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) | St. Louis Review". Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  5. ^ "SSND Educational Center". Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  6. ^ "SSNDEC Woodhaven on NY1 News - SSND Educational Center". Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  7. ^ Dispatch, Aaliyah Montoya For the Douglas. "Douglas School Sisters of Notre Dame Host International SHALOM Representatives". Douglas Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  8. ^ Writer, Brian OjanpaFree Press Staff. "School Sisters of Notre Dame: We’re not going away". Mankato Free Press. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  9. ^ inc., 501creative,. "Reception to the African Novitiate | School Sisters of Notre Dame". Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  10. ^ "School Sisters of Notre Dame - Africa". School Sisters of Notre Dame - Africa. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  11. ^ "Educating in many forms: School Sisters of Notre Dame committed to long-term Alzheimer's disease study". Global Sisters Report. 2015-07-06. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 

Coordinates: 41°53′6.08″N 12°24′0.68″E / 41.8850222°N 12.4001889°E / 41.8850222; 12.4001889

External links[edit]