Invited by the Jesuit missionary, Fr. De Smet, SJ, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur arrived from Belgium in the Pacific Northwest in 1844. ” In St. Paul, Oregon, the Sisters established a school for the daughters of the fur traders and Native Americans or mixed-blood women. The Sisters also prepared local Indian women and fur traders’ wives to receive the sacraments. The offered instruction in French and also acquired some knowledge of the Chinook language.
… “Sr. Julie Codd, CSJP, introduced me to the native community who inspired me by their spirituality, sense of relationship with all Creation, and their belief in the power of tradition and sacred ceremonies. With Sr. Julie, I do believe that: “The Church needs the native people.”
Sister Marie Smith, SNDdeN, Principal (1983-2013), writes: “Located in this major Ohio city, Corryville has a diverse student body from different socio-economic communities and cultural backgrounds. A wrap-around school, connecting programs and services with specific children, Corryville uses Choices for Children, a project to meet the needs of individual students. The school’s Mission is to educate the whole child, from pre-school through Grade 8, by meeting the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of each student.” Learn more
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Notre Dame High School, San Jose, CA is a part of another story which began over 170 years ago at the port of Antwerp in Belgium. Having waited for weeks for the winds to propel l’Infatigable, six Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) set sail for the faraway land of Oregon. In 1844, they opened a small mission in the Willamette Valley for children of the Chinook tribes and early settlers. The Oregon mission, however, met innumerable challenges and closed when the Sisters accepted an invitation to found a mission in California where needs were growing faster in the capital of San Jose.
CHALLENGES IN SAN JOSE
In 1851, the Sisters established a college and a day school on Santa Clara Street with 180 Catholic and 75 non-Catholic students of Native American and European families. With donations from clergy and city leaders, the Notre Dame schools grew along this “avenue of willows.” In 1927, the day school moved to the O’Connor Mansion and became the current Notre Dame High School, San Jose (NDSJ) and the college moved north to Belmont.
As the oldest all-girls’ high school west of the Mississippi, NDSJ, rich in tradition, flourished through two centuries with the help of many individuals who supported the SNDdeN Mission. Yet the years were not without challenge and risk-taking. With the necessary removal of the O’Connor Mansion in 2002, the future of NDSJ required the same courage and determination found in our early Sisters. The faculty and staff imagined and planned for a multi-cultural learning community in an urban landscape. With vision and funding provided by friends and benefactors, Manley Hall, a new building, became a reality in October 2002 and gave impetus to a renewed vision for young women in the 21st century.
In this Year of Consecrated Life, the Church is celebrating religious congregations throughout the world. The Church recognizes also their founders and foundresses. This year 2015 marks also the 175th anniversary of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in America.
Only 36 years after the founding of the Congregation by St. Julie Billiart in Amiens, France in 1804. Mère Ignace Goethals, our third Superior General, sent the first missionaries to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1840. Desiring herself to be a missionary in America, Mother Ignace welcomed the request of Jean-Baptiste Purcell, Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, who, during his visit to Namur, Belgium in 1839, asked for Sisters to teach in his diocese.
Conceived from Sr. Lorraine’s vision of connecting our Sisters in Africa to places beyond their isolated villages, the African Photovoltaic Project (APP) began to take shape in 2003. Today, the dream has become a reality in Fugar and Awkunanaw, Nigeria and in Kitenda, Lemfu, Ngidinga and Pelende, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with wonderful life changes and options. Convents, schools and clinics/hospital in two countries are now experiencing life with electricity for lighting, refrigeration, water purification and communications. Rooms set up with basic technology equipment in these ministries provide access to the Internet for teachers, primary and secondary classes as well as health care personnel. The Congo compounds organize these facilities by using available materials. Now, the wider community also benefits from technology at these four sites.
Thirty-three impoverished families in the tiny coastal settlement of Maceió, Brazil, rely on algae harvesting, fishing and lace-making for financial sustenance. Maceió is a Christian Base Community — a group of families that, by living and working together in accordance with the Gospel, liberate themselves from exploitation and minimizing effects of poverty.
For the past fifty years, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have empowered the people of Maceió through Bible study, community organizing, educational programs, financial assistance and business savvy. Establishing cooperatives such as the Association of Cultivators of Algae of Maceió (otherwise known as “ACALMA”) is part of the Sisters’ strategy to help indigenous peoples prevent developers from seizing their rightful lands.
In September 2014, Sr. Katherine (Corr, SNDdeN), with the Notre Dame-AmeriCorps Site Director, Jim Coleman, and the volunteer team in Washington DC, were invited to the White House for a special ceremony to recognize the contributions of AmeriCorps members over the past two decades. This nationwide event included remarks from four US Presidents who thanked AmeriCorps members for their exemplary service. President Barack Obama affirmed the commitment of our members by a reminder that service is “the opportunity to… work together for something bigger, for the common good.”
Learn more about Notre Dame Mission Volunteers-AmeriCorps
Brazil will host the World Cup in June-July 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Mega sports events increase the market for human trafficking. On January 9, 2014, The Guardianpredicted increased child sex trade: Brazil’s Child Sex Trade Soars as 2014 World Cup Nears. The Church in Brazil has chosen human trafficking for the theme of the Lenten Campaign. Catholics throughout the country will study, pray and take action against human trafficking during this season.
Since 2009, religious Congregations from different countries have organized in small groups globally for education awareness, prevention, denouncement of human trafficking, and the protection of actual and potential victims. In Brazil, Sisters of Notre Dame serve with an anti-trafficking group, called Shouting for Life, known in Portuguese as Grupo Grito pela Vida. Read the rest of Sr. Betsy article: Shouting for Life
The Farm Project is another way for IMEC (International Medical Equipment Collaborative) to share resources for sustainability and to collaborate in an educational project in partnership with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. For our schools in Peru, the project will allow for effective teaching and accessibility to resources needed to tend the earth. Sr. Marleny and the staff in the Tambogrande region are planning to extend this learning and make equipment accessible to the students’ families. IMEC is shipping 40 Farm Suites to Peru in this first phase of the Farming Program. Expanding involvement in our partnership with IMEC enables SNDs to bring about growth for more people in this rural area. We are able also to envision new possibilities for our sisters and brothers who live in poverty in other cultures and countries around our fragmented world. Shovels Become Educational Tools
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the Peru/Nicaragua Province have accepted a new challenge. They have a new mission in the rural area of Tambogrande, north of Lima, Peru. The Sisters are now administering a network of schools, with a central office in Malingas. Sr. Marleny, SNDdeN is the Director of the Rural Network Programme “Fe y Alegria” No. 48. She is administrator for 31 schools in 15 villages. She works with 100 teachers and a team of 10 people who assist her in accompanying the teachers. There are 2,147 pupils at initial, primary, secondary and adult levels. Learn more… NewChallengeforSNDsinPERU