Bringing the Chicago Spirit to Mount Notre Dame

Bringing the Chicago Spirit to Mount Notre Dame

Sister Mary Lou Stoffel and students from the Mount Notre Dame High School Adopt-a-Sister Program

“Go Make a Difference…You Can Make a Difference …” a line from a familiar hymn.

The Sisters at Notre Dame High School in Chicago must have seen the potential and the generosity in Sisters Mary Lou Stoffel, SNDdeN ’53, Sister Lea Cozzini, SNDdeN ’55 and Sister Ann Fanella, SNDdeN ’57 to “make a difference in the world” … perhaps by teaching. Likewise, the Sisters so inspired these eighteen-year-old girls that they left their families, friends and the big city of Chicago, traveled 300+ miles to the small German village of Reading, Ohio, and entered the Postulate at Mount Notre Dame. No one guaranteed their return to their beloved, bustling Windy City- but that did happen.

Indeed Sisters Mary Lou, Lea and Ann have made a difference! Through their combined 178 years of teaching and administration in parish schools and being involved in parish life, they touched the lives of thousands of young people and their parents through the “greatest work on earth – teaching them what they need for life.” After teaching at various schools in Ohio, each concluded her teaching ministry together at Saint Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago, for a combined 100+ years. As the last Sisters at Saint Robert’s, they closed the large convent in 2018 and thanked generations of parishioners for sharing the large and small events of their lives with the Sisters.

While still in good health, they decided to move to Mount Notre Dame to be of service. All three drive Sisters to appointments and shopping, do personal shopping for some Sisters, are lectors and Eucharistic ministers, assist with party planning, respond to requests from the Development Office, do banking for the local treasurer, and respond to needs as they arise. Other involvements include participating in the Adopt-a-Sister Program and Senior Interviews with Mount Notre Dame students, helping create the dinner program for the Province Jubilee, and preparing meals for holiday gatherings at many things, they reflect a life-giving spirit of warmth and generosity.

Sister Ann Fanella welcomes Mount Notre Dame High School students and staff as we begin the demonstration of the Photovoltaics Learning Lab

While at Saint Robert’s School, both Lea and Ann involved the students in supporting the Clean Water Project. Now Ann assists the Ohio Development Office in taking the Clean Water Project to schools and other groups in Cincinnati and Dayton.

Ann serves as a liaison between the convent and the Campus Minister at MNDHS, organizes the Freshman Visits to the Convent, and works with the alumnae of the former Notre Dame High School in Hamilton, Ohio.

When the convent burned in Congo, Ann and Mary Lou organized a walker, wheelchair, and cane wash, rather than a car wash. When the Cincinnati Reds play the Chicago Cubs, they don their Chicago Cubs spirit wear and lead the cheering for the Cubs… of course.

Having ministered in Chicago for so many years, each one enjoys being with the Sisters at Mount Notre Dame and getting to know better the Sisters who have moved here from the East. Indeed, they are making a difference every day!