School Sisters of Notre Dame
celebrate 175th anniversary
CHATAWA – The School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) will celebrate the 175th Anniversary of their foundation on Oct. 24.
This international congregation of women religious traces its roots to 1833, when Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger founded the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Bavaria, Germany, in response to the urgent needs of her day.
Blessed Theresa grounded her community in poverty in order to reach the poor and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As an educator, she helped women and children reach the fullness of their potential, a founding principle of SSND.
In 1847 Blessed Theresa traveled to America to help the German people who had emigrated here, and she became one of the early founders of the American parochial school system. Pope John Paul beatified Blessed Theresa in 1985.
Later on in that same year of 1874, the School Sisters of Notre Dame came to Mississippi and founded St. Mary Institute for Girls in Chatawa.
Later the school was more colorfully renamed St. Mary of the Pines Academy. The sisters operated a boarding school there for 100 years (1875-1975) offering a quality education and a solid grounding in Christian morals to thousands of young women.
Over the years the sisters also established schools in McComb, Brookhaven, Laurel, Jackson and Pascagoula.
Today, more than 3,700 School Sisters of Notre Dame serve in 36 countries on five continents. Their life in mission centers on prayer, community life and ministry.
The sisters uphold their congregation's founding vision that education has the power to transform the world, and they do so in a variety of ways, serving as teachers, administrators, lawyers, accountants, nurses, therapists, social workers, pastoral ministers, social justice advocates and much more.
In Mississippi, the sisters today fulfill that vision by volunteer assistance at St. Andrew’s Thrift Shop, Beacham Hospital and MICA in Magnolia and McComb; by individual student tutoring at St. Mary of the Pines; by medical and ministry personnel in Jackson; by staff participation in a health clinic with outreach services in Tutweiler and at the Hope Learning Center in Brandon. The Congregation itself sponsors the Notre Dame Educational Center in Canton and the St. Mary of the Pines Retreat Center.
While the worldwide congregation celebrates on Oct. 24, the Chatawa SSNDs will celebrate locally with an Open House on Sunday, Oct. 19, from 2 - 4 pm at St. Mary of the Pines Retirement Home and Retreat Center.