Facebook IconInstagram IconSpotify

A wholistic approach to wellness:
Body, mind and spirit

Our ever-changing state of health and wellbeing involves the integration of body, mind, spirit, and environment. We recognize that what we do, think, feel, and believe has an impact on our health and ultimately on the health of our community because of our interconnectedness.

- School Sister of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province,
Philosophy of Wellness and Care

Wellness is defined as the active pursuit of a lifestyle that leads to wholistic health. Wholistic, meaning the WHOLE person is greater than the sum of its parts. Mental, physical, social, financial, spiritual, environmental and vocational domains of health are taken into consideration. To this end, the Wellness Department of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province (SSNDCP) with a committee of SSND developed a Philosophy of Wellness and Care to support and guide the sisters in reaching their fullest potential throughout their lives.

Pedal Past Poverty participants Sisters Kathryn Schoolmeesters and Carolyn Fasnacht. In the background sharing support is wellness nurse Donna Olson and Sister Mary Ann Kuhn
Sister Kathryn Schoolmeesters participating in Pedal Past Poverty. Cheering her on is wellness nurse, Donna Olson, Sisters Mary Ann Kuhn and Carolyn Fasnacht.

Increasingly, it is understood that physical health is just one aspect of a person’s overall health. “When focusing on symptoms and disease process only, we can miss underlying issues that are occurring in the other domains of health, impacting the overall wellbeing of a person,” said Eileen McGartland, RN, Wellness Director, SSNDCP. In hopes of assessing all aspects of a sister’s health, the Wellness Team annually visits sisters 80 and over who are living in the community. In addition, after a brief break during the pandemic, home visits have resumed and sisters younger than 80 are visited.

“The last few years have included many transitions for sisters,” said Eileen. “The isolation because of the pandemic, moves from convent settings, retirement from long-held jobs and deaths of beloved community members have taken their toll. That is why personal visits are so important.” Through personal visits, Wellness nurses can connect with sisters in their homes, assess concerns in all areas of health, and provide needed resources to meet physical, mental, community and spiritual needs.

Additionally, and ideally, sisters are empowered to care for themselves when realizing there are concerns regarding their health and the health of the SSND community. For example, one sister started an outdoor Tai Chi class at Sancta Maria in Ripa, St. Louis. At the height of COVID, this class allowed sisters to gather in a safe way while practicing an ancient physical and spiritual practice, embracing many of the components of wholistic wellness. Another sister, Frances Wessel, started a spiritual reading book club and a ’Women at the Well’ support group to help address emotional and spiritual needs after moving into the independent living Naomi House at The Sarah Community.

In addition to her practice of walking and swimming to stay physically fit, Sister Frances wanted to incorporate ways to remain socially engaged and spiritually challenged.

“Many of the recent transitions for sisters have included periods of adjustment and grief. Having a strong community to rely on, discussing shared experiences, praying, and moving forward together contributes to an overall sense of wellbeing,” said Eileen.


The 2023 Women's Leadership Luncheons are also focused on the overall health and wellbeing of our communities. The Women’s Leadership Luncheon is the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) annual event in March, honoring National Women’s History month. The luncheon speakers share their stories to inspire attendees to believe in themselves as leaders and to use their gifts and talents to create positive change in their communities. As a result of the luncheons, relationships are formed and strengthened between SSND and the wider communities. The goal is to educate, empower and recognize unique leadership qualities of women throughout our communities.

The theme of this year’s Women’s Leadership Luncheon is Learning Today – Transforming Tomorrow. The focus is to understand mental health as a primary concern that has far-reaching impact on the health of individuals and on society. We know that by building relationships and fostering a community approach to mental, emotional, and behavioral health, we can transform lives.


Want to learn more?


School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



© 2022 School Sisters of Notre Dame