During International Literacy Day, September 8, we celebrate the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) who have actively educated for over 185 years. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established International Literacy Day in 1966 in an effort to, “remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist, and demands for skills required for work, evolve rapidly.” Over the years, SSND continues to bring education and literacy to those in need through many different avenues. One such ministry is MORE, a nonprofit organization located in St. Paul, Minnesota. At MORE, sisters, staff and community members work to help low-income families, immigrants and refugees with English as a Second Language, financial sustainability, health services, and job searching.

MORE's Executive Director, Cathy Rucci pictured with Sister Kathleen Spencer, MORE's Founder. (2012)
MORE's Executive Director, Cathy Rucci pictured with
Sister Kathleen Spencer, MORE's Founder. (2012)

In 1983, Sister Kathleen Spencer worked as a pastoral minister at the McDonough Projects, a low-income apartments/housing ministry, in St. Paul, Minnesota. During this time, tension among ethnic groups was rising. Sister Kathleen set out to learn what people needed in order to ease the rapidly increasing unrest. As a result of her inquiry, community members started coming to her with their most pressing concerns. After some time, a community group gathered to talk about their dissatisfaction with the increasing violence among the diverse nationalities in the community.

From that conversation evolved programs for teaching English, empowerment support groups, one-to-one mentoring opportunities and a better ability to address issues for residents in poverty including employment, health and education. Eventually, a board was formed, including people of different languages and cultures. According to Cathy Rucci, Executive Director, “MORE’s name came from a women’s support group. The women declared that they needed more money, more opportunities, more jobs, more dignity and more self-respect.” In 1989, MORE was officially established as a nonprofit organization.

Graduation at MORE in St. Paul, Minnesota
Sister Denay Ulrich with a student at MORE graduation in St. Paul, Minnesota

Over time, MORE became a place where anyone could feel comfortable and knew they could be themselves. “Just because we aren't all alike doesn’t mean we can’t learn to respect and care for each other,” says Sister Kathleen. MORE’s mission statement is to, “provide refugees and immigrants with the education and support they seek to become fully engaged members of our community.” This is achieved through education, financial assistance and mutual respect for the various cultural groups within MORE and the community. One student from Burma, El Mwee, said, “I have a goal. I want to learn to read and write so I can be an interpreter. I am happy that MORE can help me do this.”

After 30 plus years, MORE continues to thrive and has become a beacon of hope to the community. The 2017 annual report noted, "915 people served with 41,938 hours of service provided.” As Cathy Rucci, Executive Director, says, “Staff and volunteers respect all who enter our building. The love and respect that we have for each other is a model of how our guests should be with everyone. What I have learned being here at MORE is that I am not the same person I was when I came eight years ago. The diversity I valued has broadened so it does not just mean race and ethnicity to me anymore.”

Learn what MORE has to offer.

 
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  • SSND influenced new school in Kenya Because of a scholarship from SSNDs in Kisii, Kenya, Judith Odero defied the odds and graduated from high school. The opportunities she received from SSNDs prompted her to open a school in one of the largest slums in Nairobi to educate the underprivileged.
  • Teaching to a need Finding they had the resources available to help students near Chatawa, Miss., reach expectations, School Sisters of Notre Dame offered their services to help get third-graders to the level that allowed them to be advanced to fourth grade.
 

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School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100

info@ssndcp.org

 

© 2017 School Sisters of Notre Dame