On January 9, 1828 Hilligonde Wolbring was born. As her parents held the newborn, they wondered, “What will this child be?” Both parents died before Hillligonde was eight years old. It was only from their heavenly vantage point that they discovered Hilligonde became the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, along with her co-sister Lisette Kühling.
Perhaps we’ve held a newborn and wondered “What will this child be?” Many other times we’ve held a “newborn”—a new thought, an incipient plan, a heart’s desire that calls for action. Hilligonde and Lisette held a newborn thought: “We need to do something more for the poor children.” Within two years their concern became an orphanage that was also the convent for the first two Sisters of Notre Dame, Sister Maria Aloysia (Hilligonde) and Sister Mary Ignatia (Lisette).
Now we Sisters of Notre Dame hold a newborn: What shall our congregation become? Where is the Spirit leading us? Our recent general chapter in Coesfeld, Germany points to commitment to living incarnational spirituality, growth in life-giving relationships, and oneness in diversity. Although the direction may start with our own religious communities, the thrust is outward to all cultures and creation. Happy birthday to us, too!