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Reflection on Notre Dame of Elm Grove

By Sister Mariel Kreuziger
Sister Mariel Kreuziger is in a photo with trees found at the Notre Dame of Elm Grove, Elm Grove, Wisconsin, campus.

I have known Notre Dame of Elm Grove (NDEG), Elm Grove, Wisconsin, since I was a child when our family would come to visit my Mom’s sister, Sister (Caesaria) Florence Stangler, who was a nurse here. I remember playing in the tunnel that ran between the castle and the barn. We didn’t have such a tunnel on our farm, or any other farm for that matter, so this was kind of special. I thought we had a large family garden, but when I saw the garden at Elm Grove, I was truly amazed as a child. This was also when I was introduced to Mother Caroline and told she was a very special sister who started our school at St. Henry in Watertown, Wisconsin. And imagine! The address for our SSND property was Watertown Plank Road. You can imagine how all of this impressed me deeply as a child.

Mount Mary University (MMU) has always been home to me also, because our family would visit my mom’s other sister, Sister Mary Ellen Stangler, who was Dean of Studies there. So, you can see how my fondness for MMU and the SSND community was a part of my life growing up. It was not hard for me to know what I wanted to be when I grew up and where I wanted to go to college.

Sisters standing on steps at Notre Dame of Elm Grove, Elm Grove, Wisconsin. First row starting on the lower step: Mariel Kreuziger, Anton Marie Voissem, Paul Mary Draxler. The row behind starting on the lower step:  Marie Regine Redig, Margaret Mary Dohms

Finally, at age 86, I came to Elm Grove to retire, and what a rich place to grow in deepening my trust in and love of God. Mother Caroline has become for me a “woman of her times” as we sisters reflect on her dedication to education in the pioneer portion of the United States. We have deepened our affection for Blessed Theresa also as we delve more deeply into her commitment to educating girls and going wherever there was such a need. We sisters are amazed at how these two magnificent women worked together to keep us one, and to further the status of women in the world. I have a more in-depth knowledge of, and involved in, world issues. It’s been a privilege to have this time to grow in so many different ways. As I deepen my commitment and spiritual life, I grow more love for my sisters. Notre Dame of Elm Grove has been such an inspiring place to become more the human being God created me to become.Now, let’s fast forward in my life’s story. I did become an SSND and did attend Mount Mary College (now University). I was missioned to teach music in grade and high school, and eventually doing some form of Adult Christian Community Development at parishes and on diocesan levels. All during that time, both NDEG and MMU remained close to my heart.

And now we are on the move. This precious land has been given to us by God to enjoy nature, grow in our spiritual lives and come to appreciate each other, while at the same time, reaching out beyond this piece of property to another adventure. That, of course, is to move to Trinity Woods and share our lives with other senior citizens and women with children. Truly this is Blessed Theresa and Mother Caroline calling us forth to yet one more mission. Although this has been hard for some of our sisters who have lived at NDEG longer than I have, they are still ready and willing. We sisters are ready and willing to pass on this land which we have treasured for so long, to set out once more to answer God’s call. We answer, “Here we are, Lord, ready to do your will.”


Read more articles about the history of NDEG.


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