School Sisters of Notre Dame

School Sisters of Notre Dame is a worldwide religious institute of Roman Catholic sisters devoted to primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. 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. They educate in a variety of ways, serving as teachers, administrators, lawyers, accountants, nurses, therapists, social workers, pastoral ministers, social justice advocates and much more.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame are known by the abbreviation S.S.N.D. and is not to be confused with another teaching order, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeM), which was founded in France.

Founding and growth

The congregation was founded in Bavaria in 1833 during a time of poverty and illiteracy. Its founder, Caroline Gerhardinger, known by the religious name of Mary Theresa of Jesus, formed a community with two other women in Neunburg vorm Wald to teach the poor.

In 1847, Blessed Theresa and five companion sisters traveled to the United States to aid German immigrants, especially girls and women. That same year, the sisters staffed schools in three German parishes in Baltimore, Maryland: St. James, St. Michael, and St. Alphonsus, as well as opening the Institute of Notre Dame, a private school for German girls. Eventually the Congregation spread across the United States and into Canada, ultimately forming 8 North American Provinces.

More than 3,000 School Sisters of Notre Dame work in thirty-four countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania.


The original rule of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, approved by Pope Pius IX in 1865, allowed Blessed Theresa and her successors, instead of local bishops, to govern the congregation. The main motherhouse was moved from Neunburg vorm Wald to Munich in 1843 and remained there until the 1950s. Today, the Generalate of the Congregation can be found in Rome, Italy.

Nun Study

678 members of the congregation in the U.S. are participating in the Nun Study, a longitudinal study of aging and Alzheimer's disease initiated in 1986. The homogeneous life style of the sisters makes them an ideal study population. Convent archives have been made available to investigators as a resource on the history of participants. Of the 677 sisters which include Sister Kathleen Treanor, 93 and Sister Antoine Daniel, 96, only 61 surviving sisters recently completed their last rounds of intellectual and physical tests for the Nun Study. The sisters agreed to donate their brains to science. They acknowledged the success to David Snowdon, an epidemiology professor at the University of Minnesota in 1986. In 1992, he administered annual memory and cognitive tests to 678 sisters ranging in age from 75 to 102.[1]





North America

United States (including territories)

Tertiary institutions

Notable members


External links

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