Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 18, 2002
School Sisters of Notre Dame mark 75 years
By PAT STORTZ
Special to the WCR
On Feb. 14, the Canadian province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame will celebrate its 75th anniversary. In 1927 the Canadian province was founded when a boarding school was established in Leipzig, Sask., and the motherhouse in Waterdown, Ont., was opened.
The School Sisters of Notre Dame, an international community of women in mission, began in Bavaria, now part of Germany, in 1833 under the leadership of Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger.
Impelled by their love for God and God's people they sought, through education, to help remedy the social ills of the times caused by the Napoleonic wars. In 1847 five SSNDs went to the United States to provide education for German immigrant children.
An invitation to assist in the orphanage in St. Agatha, Ont., brought the congregation to Canada in 1871. By 1927, SSND ministry in Canada had spread into the West with the opening of the boarding school in Leipzig.
Throughout this period, our Canadian pioneer sisters received their initial religious formation at the motherhouse in Milwaukee, Wis. This changed in 1927 when the Canadian motherhouse opened in Waterdown and the Canadian province became an administrative unit of the congregation.
The spirit of the founders is alive in the congregation today and is seen in the ardent desire of the sisters to do the will of God, in their apostolic zeal to educate youth, especially women and persons who are poor, and in their desire to bring all to oneness in God.
Education, in its broadest sense - enabling people to reach the full potential for which God created them - remains the focus of SSND ministry whether in the elementary grades, high school, university or adult education; parish ministry; catechetics; counselling and spiritual direction; social justice work; the ministry of prayer and presence; or community leadership.
Waterdown was chosen as the location of the Canadian Motherhouse because it was close to the Hamilton Teachers' College where the young sisters could study for their teacher's certificate.
Today it houses the offices of the provincial council and other provincial departments. It is also the retirement home of the School Sisters of Notre Dame of the Canadian province, a home of prayer and contemplation, a place of quiet beauty and gracious hospitality.
Here, too, SSND collaborates with other apostolic activities including: Seniors Activation and Maintenance day program, children's workshop, music education, Meals on Wheels, St. Thomas Parish, and diocesan religious education by correspondence.
Throughout the year we will remember and celebrate those who worked so hard to help us, spiritually and financially, over the years. We invite alumnae, friends, relatives, benefactors and former members to come celebrate with us. Events will be posted on our website: www.ssndcanadian.org. You can also contact us by phone 905-689-6344 ext.209.