School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education

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Pope Francis brings the message of hope and healing to Africa.

Pope Francis is in Africa for  his maiden visit to these vast continent. Pope Francis chose to make his first stop  in Nairobi,  Kenya. A  choice that saw the country so excited to receive  the special guest.Plans to host  him have been going on for months. Both the government and the church have been working tirelessly to make the pontiff’s visit a success.

Pope Francis’s three days  in Kenya were packed with lots of meetings and activities. He attended an inter religious dialogue where he called on other religious leaders to work for peace. Pope Francis celebrated a special mass for the country at Nairobi University;a mass that was attended by thousands of Christians.  He visited the poor who live in the  slums of Kangemi, Nairobi and  in another event,he addressed dignitaries on climate change and environmental issues  at UNEP  headquarters in Nairobi .

On the last day of his visit , Pope Francis wowed thousands of young  gathered  in Kasarani stadium.This was their opportunity to tell the Pope about the challenges they face from tribalism, discrimination and radicalization to peer pressure.Here Pope Francis spoke off the cuff.He spoke passionately,honestly and was even a little  confrontational about these issues.  It was more of a counselling session. He left them with the message that corruption is an evil they need to eradicate from their society.

But for most  of us ,the best part was when the pope met with the clergy,religious and the seminarians. Putting aside his prepared text, the Holy Father spoke of the joy of a life of radical service to the Gospel and of the radical faithfulness to Christ that is the guarantee of happiness and success in ordained ministry and consecrated discipleship.More than 8000 persons were at this event. Among the audience were the School Sisters of Notre Dame who even got some  great shots of this great man.

While explaining what it means to be called; Pope Francis explained to the Bishops, priests, brothers and nuns that one must live like someone who has been chosen by Christ himself.

An official transcript of the Pope Francis’ extemporaneous remarks is being prepared. In the meantime, has a video of the Holy Father’s address, with side-by-side English translation provided by the Pope’s interpreter, Msgr. Mark Miles.

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Remembering Our Sr Mary Mamwacha

By Sr Joan Mukhwana

Today marks a year since our  beloved Sr Mary Mamwacha SSND  went to God. The  School Sisters of Notre Dame  in the Kenya area marked  this special day on Saturday the 11th of July. The sisters and Sr Mary’s family gathered at our  formation house in Kisumu,Kenya in anticipation of Sr.Mary Mamwacha’s  death anniversary. On this day,  we gathered to celebrate the Eucharist  and bless the new  tombstone.

The newly Professed sisters joined us in the celebration. L-R  Srs Edna,Beatrice,Julie,Ruth and Joy.

The newly Professed sisters joined us in the celebration.
L-R Srs Edna,Beatrice,Julie,Ruth and Joy.

The  celebration of the Eucharist was led by Fr Dominic OP .Among those present were the  newly professed sisters who had just arrive  from  Ghana. They were part of the beautiful choir that sang at  this celebration.The sisters shared with the family a  gift of sister Mary’s memories. These memories  recorded in a digital video disk tell of Sr Mary’s life and her last days on earth.  After the Eucharistic celebration ,we all processed to Mary’s resting place  and held a blessing ritual for  the new tombstone.

It was a great way to remember our Sr Mary, A woman of great faith who shared her love,faith hope with all the people she lived and worked with. May she rest in eternal peace.

Sr Mary's resting place.

Sr Mary’s resting place.

The sisters and family gather at Sr Mary's resing place for the blessing of the tombstone.

The sisters and family gather at Sr Mary’s resting place for the blessing of the tombstone.

The family processes  out to the  place of rest.

The family processes out to the place of rest.


Sharing Our Love and Our Hope!

By Sr Lucy Etim.

St Francis’ Girls, Kiptere Shalom Club members marked the end of a week program of women’s day celebration by visiting our friends in Kericho town. On a beautiful, Saturday  morning we embarked on a journey to Kericho town to visit children in the “Living with Hope Centre.” A Centre managed by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart.


St Francis Girls High School Shalom club members with the group of former street boys and staff

The first group we visited was a group of former street boys. This  group which is made up former street boys who were  rescued from the streets  and are helped to reconnect with their families. The Street children’s  program at the Living with Hope Centre uses  three ‘Rs’ to work with the street boys i.e. Rescue, Rehabilitate and Repatriate.

The second group we visited at “Living with Hope Centre”  are children living with HIV. These children have  health challenges that are being managed at the Centre. We spent our day in the two homes sharing, chatting and making friends with the children.

IMG_0136.JPG Kids sick
Shalom Club members visit with friends at Living With Hope Centre

“As women of integrity who have been empowered, we felt the need to reach out to other people to empower and support them”.

It was a very enriching experience for each of the Shalom club members We shared experiences and encouraged one another in life. Some of the stories were very touching and triggered emotions.

In sharing of their experiences, the girls became more appreciative of the life and gifts/opportunities  they have. Listening to the stories of these young people among many others have called me to be more attentive to the many voices that cry out around  us and open our hearts to reach out as Christ would. Let us be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this year  of consecrated life. God bless you!

Lucy in another women's day

Sr Lucy Etim with the Shalom Club at a Women’s day Celebration.


Blessed with Richness of Diversity



Sister Lucy with her students from St Francis Girls Kiptere at a women’s day celebration

For Sister Lucy Clement Etim, being a School Sister of

Notre Dame has blessed her with the richness of diversity,

broadened her world vision and shaped her perspective.

Sister Lucy, who is from Nigeria, made her first profession in

Ghana and currently lives in Kenya. Her first call to religious

life came during her first Holy communion in primary school.

“I felt a special call to dedicate my whole life to Christ

with an undivided heart and mind in service and deep

relationship,” Sister Lucy said.

“What drew me to SSND was the simplicity of the sisters

when I first met them; the way they interacted with us

touched me; the hospitality and the kind of education that

they gave to us helped bring out the potential in each one.

I was helped to gain a lot of self-confidence and share my

talents with others and not feel shy. That was a significant

moment in my life and I was touched and wanted to be like

them to help others, serving God in that way as an educator.

“Today, I feel glad to be a School Sister of Notre Dame

and minister with a world vision that the world can be

transformed through education. The challenge of living

religious life for me is to what extent I should be involved

in the world to serve and witness against the diseases of

secularization, consumerism and divisions.”

GRAD 296

Sister Lucy poses with Sister Helen in Kiptere, Kenya,

Sister Lucy teaches mathematics  at St. Francis Girls Secondary

School in Kiptere, Kenya. Her responsibilities include

helping to coordinate the activities of the Shalom/Young

Christian Students club.

profession 2

Sisters Millicent,Terngu,Lucy,Eti-ini,Magdalene and Vera on their profession Day, July 2013


Continuing the Vision of our Foundress

By Magdalene Akpan

In celebration of the year of Consecrated life the School Sisters of Notre Dame will be sharing their call to religious life. This stories have been published in our newsletter “Trust and Dare” visit sisters  for more stories.


Professed July 2011

Sister Magdalene Akpan attributes her strong Catholic background with providing the incentive to listen and respond to the call to religious life. Growing up in the southern part of Nigeria, she was involved in different groups in her parish, which provided her opportunities to serve and evangelize.

Magdalene Good.

“As a result, there was a growing desire in me to be more,”

Sister Magdalene said. “I had a quest for closer union with

God, for living with those who have this same desire and

also for reaching out in service to God’s people.

Copy (7) of IMG_3916

Sisters Gloria, Judy, Magdalene and Marceline pose for a group picture on their profession day.

I believed the desire would be fulfilled in responding to the call to religious life.” In college, a friend introduced her to the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

“I fell in love with the spirit of the School Sisters of

Notre Dame from the first moment I was introduced to

the congregation,” Sister Magdalene said. “I felt a deep

resonance with their charism of unity and their ministry

of education. Also, the simplicity of the sisters, their joyful

and welcoming spirit and their having interest in people

were some of the attributes that attracted me during my first

meeting with the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

Magdalene Akpan on Profession Day

Newly professed sisters pose for a group photo S. Judy, Marcy, Magdalene and Gloria

“I have enjoyed the support of sisters in community, which has helped me draw closer to God each day, which in turn

has given me the energy to be about the mission of Jesus Christ. Our internationality is also a great gift.” Sister Magdalene teaches agriculture and business studies in Sister Michaela Girls’ Secondary School in Kenya. She also is co-vocation director in Kenya.

Sr Magdalene Akpan on her profession Day

Sr Magdalene Akpan on her profession day in 2011

“I am ready for all, since I propose to do nothing else but  God’s holy will alone, which should be done in and with us.”

– Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger, foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame

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Come and See! Young women respond to the call.

By Sr Magdalene Akpan  and Sr Theodoah Ihiro SSND

“Through our life as apostolic women religious, we witness to the joy and challenge of following Christ. Gifted with God’s grace and drawn to our way of life, other women perceive within themselves God’s call to share in the life of our Congregation. We welcome these women and together with them enter into a process of discerning their call to be School Sisters of Notre Dame.” (You Are Sent. Par 43, Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame)


In late November last year, young women (from different parts of Nigeria) gathered on the grounds of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) at Mbribit  Itam community, Nigeria.

Nigeria Vocation Seminars

Sr. Theodora (far right) Novices Edna,Beatrice,Julie and Joy pose for a group photo with the young women.

The aim of this gathering was to help these young women who are aspiring to join religious life begin to discern their call to this worthy life style through various seminars facilitated by SSND novices and sisters.

Apart from the formal sessions, young women participated in other day to day  activities like cleaning and cooking.They were sensitive to each other’s needs; their caring spirit and attitude was admirable.

The last evening, which was set apart as social night, saw the young women explore their gifts and talents in songs, poems, dances and drama.

Kenya      By Sr.Magdalene Akpan SSND

Vocation Seminars girls 1

Young women arrive at St Francis Girls Kiptere,Kenya for the come and see days.

In Kenya, the Come and See Seminars took place in early December. Young women  interested in knowing more about religious life  came from different parts of the country.We  converged in St. Francis School, Kiptere. The seminars are held each year in December . During these three days, we  journeyed with these young women helping  each of them  listen and discern where God may be calling them.

Prayer, reflection and mutual interaction created a conducive environment  for the participants to discern the movements of God in their hearts.

Kanini's washing of feet vocation Seminars Kenya

Sr Kanini washes participants’ feet in the Prayer and service seminar.

For these young women , this  was an enriching experience ; a time to find answers for some  their questions

On our part, we were touched and blessed by the presence  of these young women during these days.

Novices Nduke and Monica

Novices Nduke and Monica (far right ) pose with the young women who attended the seminar on Call and Jesus.

Follow the star design

Magdalene Good.

Sr Magdalene Akpan SSND


Shaping a future full of hope!

By Sister Mary Mburu. SSND

The  School Sisters of Notre Dame of the Province of Africa  held the PDIC conference  in Accra, Ghana in mid December this year. The conference which brings together all the sisters working in formation in the province was  facilitated by Sister Kate Duval  SSND.  Sister. Mary Kerber,the provincial leader for Africa  welcomed, thanked and blessed each of the sisters at the beginning of this meeting.

Formation Group

Sister working in formation and the provincial Council pose for a group picture with Mrs Millicent Togoh(5th left)

For all of us, it was a time of prayer, reflection and sharing, in which we invested ourselves into open and honest discussion  regarding one congregational novitiate in Rome.

Formation Mburu

Sisters Mary Mburu, Janet and Delia share a light moment during the conference.

Participants  at this conference took time to listen to the report presented  by the sisters who had attended the  PDIC meeting in  Rome in August.The sharing of this report was followed by an interactive session of questions, comments and feedback for clarity .The interactive session was a moment of grace because it led to a better understanding  of the implications of having one congregational novitiate for the province of Africa.  It also provided a basis for our discussions  we had at  this meeting.

We commit ourselves to create  a more welcoming, nurturing, and supportive environment for our women in initial formation.

Formation magda and Janet

Sisters Magdalene, Janet and Goretty take time to relax at the conference.

It was a privilege to experience a day with Mrs. Millicent Togoh, an intercultural consultant and coach who spoke passionately about the dynamics and skills of intercultural living. The theme of her talk  was based on Martin Luther King Jr’s words  “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools”.

Our days together were marked by a sense of joy, hope, open and sincere dialogue.


Sister (Priscilla poses with Sr Grace and Sister Victoria our provincial councilors who were part of the conference.

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Hurrah! Nigeria Celebrates Her 40th Anniversary

SR. PRISCILLA C. ONWUKA SSND, Area Local Leader in Nigeria writes:

This year,  Nigeria  marks the 40th anniversary of School Sisters of Notre Dame  presence on the Nigerian soil. We the sisters in Nigeria rejoice in God’s goodness, love and hope, as we continue to trust and deepen our relationship with God  and humanity, we shall soar high.

The first School Sister of Notre Dame  who came to Nigeria  in 1974 was Sr. Melmarie Gentry from Baltimore province . Sr. Melmarie was invited by Bishop Obot, the then  Auxiliary Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese . Sr Melmarie   met Bishop Obot in Rome and  Bishop Obot  requested her to teach come to Nigeria and teach in  the seminary and in the girls  secondary school in his  diocese (Ikot Ekpene).

Sister Melmarie

Sister Melmarie

Sr. Melmarie’s coming was an individual commitment but afterwards, the Baltimore Province in the United States made a commitment to Nigeria. In this regard, Sr. Gabriel Roeder from Baltimore and Maris Simon from Mankato joined Sr Melmarie in 1977. In 1981, Srs Dorothy Hunt and Virginia Brien joined  the sisters in Nigeria. They taught  at  a private  secondary school at Ikot Ekpene and  lived  in a rented building. The chief and the villagers in Ikot Etuk udo were not comfortable seeing the sisters living in a rented house and they offered  land for the sisters to build a convent. In 1984, the house was  completed, Cardinal Dominic Ekandem blessed the new residence for the sisters.Through the generosity of our sisters in Bavarian province, Mother Caroline’s Nursery and Primary school was built at Ikot Etuk Udo. Today the school is called Notre Dame Nursery and Primary School. Even though the sisters are no longer ministering in this school.

In 1985, Sr. Eugenia Forebeck arrived and 1987 Sr.Jane Irons followed. Since then many sisters from the former Baltimore, Chicago, Canada, Dallas and Milwaukee provinces have  worked in Nigeria. Some of them are: Sr. Martin Colbert, Sr Peg Malone, Sr. Sharon Dei, Sr. Anne Vogel, Sr, Carol Schmitz, Sr Anne Arthur Klinker, Sr. Betty Roesser, Sr. Doreen Schommer, Sr. Antoinette Naumann, Sr Jane Weisgram, Sr. Sandy Weinke, Sr. Inez Bocklage, Sr. Carol Kleber, Sr. Marie Theresa Nowakowski, Sr Sylvia Borgmeier, Sr. Antoinette is now ministers  in Sierra Leone and other sisters have returned back to their different provinces of origin . Sisters Melmarie, Sharon Dei and Carol Kleber have gone to heaven. May their gentle souls rest in perfect peace. Amen.

The sisters  taught in secondary schools , seminaries and others worked in the remands homes. Most of the sisters worked  as formators for the young sisters. In 1989, the formation house was built at Mbribit Itam in Uyo Diocese.  Sr. Martin Kolbert was the first postulant directress,she was  assisted by Sr. Anne Vogel,  Sisters  Carol Schmitz, Carol Kleba, Marie Theresa Nowakowski, Antoinette Naumann and Sandy Weinke were also formators in Nigeria.

In 1993, Sr Gabriel Roeder built the Notre Dame Girls’ Junior and Senior Secondary School in the Diocese of Makurdi at Mkar in Benue State. This  school (NDSS), the only school owned by the School Sisters of Notre Dame was built to provide education for girls. The first Principal (Administrator) of the school was Sr Peg Malone.Gabriel in kitchen copy

August 15th, 1989 was a special year for us because it was the year the first five (5) Nigerian women were accepted into the postulancy. On 14th November, 1992 they made their first profession. Since then, we have been having a steady stream of candidates for religious life. Today we have ten (10) Nigerians who have made their final commitment, thirteen (13) under temporary vows, seven novices and three postulants.

As an international congregation, most of the sisters are working in other countries, the novices are in Ghana while the Postulants are in Kenya for their formation training. As of now, we have one novitiate and one postulancy for all African candidates.

In  life’s endeavor, every experience we have , in no small measure  contribute to our joy and our resilience in facing  today’s realities. Our God, we thank you! We are very grateful for your abundant love for us. May your name be ever glorified, as we bring you to every soul we encounter through our ministry.

Sisters Marie,Janet,Monica,Dorothy and Meg

Sisters Marie,Janet,Monica,Dorothy and Meg

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Safety of our Sisters in Africa

GoogleEarth Africa

To our dear friends and partners in mission.,

While much of our world is impacted with health and safety issues, we know that some of you have expressed concern for SSND’s in Africa and the particular issues we face. Presently our seven Sisters who were working in Sierra Leone are now temporarily assigned to ministries in other countries with the great desire and hope to return to Sierra Leone when it is safe. We SSND’s in Africa continue to educate others on good practices to prevent the spread of Ebola.

The activities of the militant Islamic group, Boko Haram, are prevalent in the northern part of Nigeria; our SSND ministries are not in the north. At the same time, we know we have to take precautions for safety and to add to our educational efforts in building a peaceful society through our commitment to transformative education.
Thank you for your prayers and concern and most especially for the ways you support us in our ministries.

The Provincial Council,
Province of Africa