Expanding Our Ministry
Encouraged by the Second Vatican Council to be open to serving the people of God in new ways, we took our mission of education to ministries beyond the conventional classroom walls in the 1960s.
In 1962, two Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur went to Brazil, adapting their work to the needs of the people of the Amazon. The establishment of the mission in Brazil marked the beginning of the Sisters' service to the poor in the southern hemisphere where we educated faith leaders and taught sustainable farming and nutrition. Not long afterward, we expanded again, this time to Africa and into Kenya.
Meanwhile, back in the US, our Sisters began a variety of ministries designed to respond directly to the needs of our inner-city neighbors. We started missions to feed and clothe the homeless, halfway homes for women coming from prison and pre-employment training programs to help at risk women move from welfare to work. We formed organizations to buy and rehab houses for low income families and then taught the owners how to be good neighbors.
In 1969, our Foundress was canonized and became St. Julie Billiart. This simple French countrywoman's commitment to the education of young girls was officially recognized by the universal Church. So, too, was Notre Dame's contribution to education in the broadest sense.
From the start, St. Julie envisioned a congregation that stretched beyond the boundaries of a single diocese or country. This became a reality when the Sisters first came to Cincinnati, and that vision has continued to expand as Sisters from the Ohio Province now work in Brazil, Peru and Nicaragua in Latin America, in Nigeria and Kenya in Africa, as well as in nine states in the United States.