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SSNDs break bread with immigrants and refugees

In keeping with the SSND mission of welcoming strangers, five SSNDs brought bread to the International Institute in St. Louis to join immigrants and refugees for a potluck luncheon. Sisters Virginia Grumich, Mary Kay Schmitt, Mary Runde, Mary Bryan Owens and Christine Spour brought donated Panera bread to the buffet, which offered foods from around the world.

SSNDs bring and break bread with immigrants and refugees“Internationalism is a big part of our mission as SSNDs,” said Sister Virginia. “Going to these luncheons is a great way to connect with the community and learn more about other cultures! Plus there is delicious food and we meet so many interesting people.”

The potluck luncheon gave sisters and other volunteers the opportunity to talk with those newly arrived to the United States about their cultures, families and experiences. SSNDs were one of the first groups to attend the luncheons. Sister Louise Benecke initially established the relationship with the Institute, and Sister Mary Bryan teaches second level English classes there.

These relationships allowed a few immigrants and refugees to visit Sancta Maria in Ripa and speak about their experiences to the 50-year Jubilarian class. The luncheon gave one of those Jubilarians, Sister Mary Kay, the chance to reconnect with them.

“We set up a time to meet beforehand,” said Sister Mary Kay. “[A recently immigrated Syrian couple] and I had hit it off when they came to speak to our Jubilarian class, and I was excited to see them again!”

The International Institute helps immigrants who have recently arrived to the St. Louis area. It functions on three pillars: immersion, investment and inclusion. Overall goals include helping newcomers gain literacy and fluency in written and spoken English, preparing for citizenship classes, searching for jobs, providing micro-loans for small businesses and planning public events to promote public understanding of immigrants and refugees in the area. For more information, visit their website.

Photo by Lauren Huffman

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Want to learn more?


School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



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