Experience Together

Coming to America

Steamship Washington LithographIn 1847 Mother Mary Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger, SSND foundress, set out from Germany for America with four sisters and a novice. Although the religious institute was just 14 years old, she took a risk in order to respond to the needs of German immigrants in the New World.

“We consider it an indication of Divine Providence that the Lord calls us in these turbulent times to America,” Mother Theresa wrote during the final months of preparation for her missionary voyage across the Atlantic. Shortly after her arrival and a series of discouraging experiences in New York and Pennsylvania, she confided to Father Mathias Siegert, “Deep within my heart is the realization that America will either give a great impetus to our young congregation or will destroy it.”

Map - SSND Coming to AmericaFrom the five pioneer sisters who arrived in New York, the North American branch of SSND grew. Before returning to Germany in 1848, Mother Theresa put Sister Caroline Friess in charge of the SSND schools and business matters. In 1850 she appointed Caroline, who was just 26 years old, her vicar for North America. By this time there were already 24 sisters, 17 candidates or prospective members, 30 orphans and 1,250 students in seven schools. In 1892, the year of Caroline’s death, there were more than 2,000 sisters serving on 208 missions in 29 dioceses in North America.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame educate with a global vision, believing that the world can be changed through the transformation of persons. They work to empower others through education and spread Jesus’ message of love and unity. Learn more about how the SSND vision is carried forward through their partners in mission.

Visit http://www.ssndcentralpacific.org/Partner/Partners-In-Mission

What is one way that God has challenged you to be a risk-taker?

Top Photo: Hand-colored lithograph showing the steamship Washington, built 1847 for
the Ocean Steam Navigation Company, passing Castle Williams in New York Harbor.

Bottom Photo: Map showing the School Sisters of Notre Dame initial
travels in the United States by Sister Gilmary Lemberg, SSND

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