The international congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame was founded by Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger in Bavaria, Germany in 1833. Blessed Theresa believed that the renewal of society depended on the family unit and that women had a significant role in developing Christian values within the family. The education of girls from poor families became the focus of the congregation.
Today, there are 2,900 School Sisters of Notre Dame who serve in 32 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Impelled by the Spirit and mission of Jesus, they educate with a global vision believing that the world can be changed through the transformation of persons.
Five School Sisters of Notre Dame came to North America in 1847 to educate the children of German immigrants. An invitation by Rev. Eugene Funcken CR to administer the orphanage in St. Agatha, Ontario brought the SSNDs to Canada in 1871.
In 1927 the Canadian Province was established. The new Motherhouse was built in Waterdown, Ontario primarily because it was close to the Hamilton Teacher’s College.
Within the Diocese the School Sisters of Notre Dame have been involved in education in elementary and secondary schools and at St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo. Formerly, sisters served in the Marriage Tribunal of the Hamilton Diocese and administered the diocesan catechetical program. At present, sisters minister in parishes and are involved in adult faith education and spiritual direction. A current initiative is the anti- human trafficking committee which provides workshops to educators, students, parish groups and civic officials.
In July 2012 the Canadian Province integrated with the Atlantic-Midwest Province. Although the Provincial Council is located in Baltimore, a close liaison is maintained with Bishop Douglas Crosby and the Church in Canada.