This month’s installment of the Get to Know series comes from Sister Mary Ruth Lubbers of the Sisters of Notre Dame. For more information about the Sisters of Notre Dame or their vocation ministry, please contact Sister Mary Ruth Lubbers, SND at 859-392-8118 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Visit the SND website at www.sndky.org and www.snd1.org.
The Sisters of Notre Dame is an international congregation with a history that goes back to 1850 when God called two young women, Hilligonda Wolbring and Elizabeth Kuhling, to respond to the needs of the children in their classes who had no one to care for them. The two brought the children home and gave them a safe place to live. As more children came under their care, it was decided to establish a religious community. With the help of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Amersfoort, The Netherlands, Hilligonda and Elizabeth entered into religious formation. They became known as Sister Mary Aloysia and Sister Mary Ignatia, respectively. The Amersfoort sisters had been formed in the spirit of Julie Billiart and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Times in Germany became difficult under Bismarck and his Culture War. The Sisters needed to leave Germany; they began to migrate to the United States of America in 1874 where there were many German immigrants in Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio and Covington, KY. Bishop Augustus Toebbe of Covington was a brother to one of the Sisters in Germany and requested Sisters for his diocese. The Sisters first came to Mother of God Church and School. In the subsequent years, many Sisters arrived and began to teach in schools in the Northern Kentucky area. In time the community grew in Covington and the Archbishop of Cincinnati invited the Sisters to come and teach in schools and take over St. Aloysius Orphanage, in the spirit of the founding Sisters. Over the years, the Sisters have also ministered in the dioceses of Birmingham, Alabama, Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky to respond to the needs of the People of God in those areas.
Julie Learning Center, also sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame, provides an enrichment program for four- and five-year-olds. The Sisters have made a commitment to working with students in the urban areas. They still minister in schools to which the Sisters first came upon arriving in the States in the 1870’s.
Recently the Notre Dame Urban Education Center was started to offer transformative educational programs to individuals and families, providing support. Students are helped on a daily basis after school through instructional tutoring, creative play, Fine Arts enrichment, and physical education. Through the assistance of many volunteers, young people from the urban area are improving in their school performances and their lives.
The sisters also have served the People of God in the health care ministry, sponsoring St. Charles Care Center in Ft. Wright, KY to care for the elderly and St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, KY to care for the people of Appalachia. These institutions strive to proclaim God’s goodness through the healing ministry of Jesus.
In 1995, the Sisters opened a mission in Buseesa, Uganda, East Africa along with Sisters from the California province to help raise the standards of education and prepare young people for Catholic leadership in the poorest bush region of the Hoima diocese. St. Julie Primary School was opened in 1998 and Notre Dame Academy Secondary School in 2003.
The Sisters have been involved in the Hispanic Ministry Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in Dayton reaching out to individuals and families from Mexico and other Latin countries who need help in learning English and adjusting to life in the United States.
The Sisters have an outreach program during the summer – Stretch Your Heart – during which they cordially invite single women ages 18 -40 to join them for a week of service.
The Sisters strive to be open to the needs of the times and to find faith-filled, caring ways to respond.
Click here to read more about the other groups featured in our Get to Know Series.
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