One Hundred Fifty Years and Still Going Strong

We Sisters of Notre Dame were founded by Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring and Sister Maria Ignatia Kühling in 1850 in Coesfeld, Germany. Our congregation grew rapidly in the first 20 years, as sisters taught school, cared for orphans, and welcomed those aspiring to religious life. But that would change with the Kulturkampf when the Sisters were forced to leave their homeland. This was the catalyst to bring Sisters of Notre Dame to the United States 100 years ago, arriving on American shores on July 4, 1874. Today’s blog and subsequent ones throughout the summer months will share some of our history especially in the United States. I hope you will find interest and inspiration in them. Let’s start with the Sisters’ expulsion from Germany, 20 years after their founding.

Sister Mary Justina Rickert was among those forced to leave. She wrote: “The authorities said that if the sisters wanted to stay in Germany and keep their activities, they were to put aside their religious habit and appear in secular clothing.” Consequently, the bishop of Munster, Johannes Bernard Brinkmann, called the sisters together and assured them that they would leave the country, but he did not know where. Soon a priest in Germany acquainted with a priest in Cleveland secured permission for the sisters to settle in the Cleveland Diocese. “Thus it happened that in 1874, Mother Mary Chrysostom Heck, second superior General, with a group of sisters formerly active along the Rhine, left Germany from Port Bremen and landed in New York on the Fourth of July.”

We Sisters will celebrate 150 years with a special liturgy and picnic on July 4, 2024. More about that later.

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  1. Catherine Schneider on June 1, 2024 at 8:01 am

    Congratulations on 100 years in USA

  2. Sr. Berneta on June 1, 2024 at 10:13 am

    I will look forward to revisiting our history.

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