2023 Fall Appeal

"Where the Sisters Start ..."

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur dream big.

They don’t start their many works to make lives a little better; they start them to make lives radically better.

From many of us here, we may have grown so used to that, that we don’t even think about it. Notre Dame has become for us, and for many, an established presence.

But this wasn’t always so. It wasn’t so for immigrants cast onto the Cincinnati wharfs of the 1840s, and who had no schools for their children until our first U.S. Sisters opened them. It wasn’t so for newly-freed slaves in the 1860s who for the first time had the larger world revealed through education as offered in the first decades of American Notre Dame. It wasn’t true for children who were deaf growing up in the 1870s until the Sisters founded a school for their benefit.

This was not small change. It was gargantuan, radical change. It was change so significant that its waves raced forward through successive generations, maybe even to you.

And if you think about it, this transformational change is still happening – some close, some far. It’s happening in inner-city schools where children from neighborhoods rife with crime, drugs and ignorance are escaping to lives of purpose.

It’s happening with migrant workers in Florida where the Sisters have established a credit union to allow for a financial future. It’s happening in Appalachia down hollows lined with people once addicted to opioids who now because of the Sisters have broken free.

It’s happing in Haiti where scores of families have a reliable income because of a Notre Dame bakery and the many jobs that go with it. It’s happening in Kenya where children with disabilities who before faced lives of dependence now have a school of their own, and a future of their own. It’s happening in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo where families for the first time have access to electricity and clean water made possible through the Sisters’ solar power and water wells.

This is radical transformation. It’s not small change; it’s huge change.

Sister Margaret Inziani, SNDdeN, in a classroom with students with different abilities, in Kenya

In all our ministries, we start with the people in front of us. We start on a limited basis addressing immediate needs. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t aiming for large results. And precisely because these results are large – invariably so – our ministries scale up. A classroom becomes a school. One well in one village becomes scores of wells across a continent. Helping one child who is deaf becomes helping hundreds.

Give people what they need for life, Saint Julie said over and over. What people need for life is the starting point. And it’s where we as Sisters start every day.

We started a center several years ago for people in danger of being trafficked. We started the school in Kenya for children with disabilities just this past year. Next year, we’ll start so many new things.

We choose to never stop starting. And there is so much to start, so much to do. Please join with us through your gifts.

With you, we change lives

With the support of generous friends like you, we are able to continue our mission of educating and taking a stand with those in poverty— especially women and children.

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