School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education


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


Orthopedic Training Centre Opens a Prosthetics and Orthotics Training College

Students and staff of BTPOTC

Students and staff of BTPOTC


Six of the eight women enrolled in the course along with Sister Liz Newman, SSND

Since 1961 when the OTC began it has always been a centre of training. It not only trained the patients how to use their orthopedic appliances but trained young men how to manufacture all the appliances needed by the physically challenged, leg braces, shoes, artificial limbs, splints, crutches, etc.

In 2012 the OTC realized the need and at the request of the Ministry of Health started the Brother Tarcisius Prosthetics and Orthotics Training College. It is a three year diploma program and is associated with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. On September 12, 2014 a MOU was signed between the College and the University. The College now has 11 second year students and 20 first years. We are delighted that among the first year students we have 8 young woman this breaking the gender barrier that says woman cannot be technicians.

Our main reason for starting the college was to make sure the physically challenged of the future will have qualified professionals to care for their needs. At the moment we are the main providers for orthopedic appliances in the country. As our students receive their diplomas they will be able to help the centres of the country as well as the mission hospitals who need their expertise.

We are happy that Brother Tarcisius was able to see the College begin before he died. He was a man of many gifts and always instilled in the technicians the need to learn as much as possible and to always try to improve on how appliances were made. Up to the day before his death he was in the workshop advising the technicians and evaluating their work. He had been the main educator in this field so we know that he is with us as we now bring our training to a new level that will receive the academic recognition needed in this present time.

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Vocation Directors in Africa


Here are the sisters to contact in each country in which we serve.

Irene B Arthur
Theodorah Ihiro
Janet Odey
Magdalene Akpan
Mary Goretti Aboge
The Gambia
Mary J Mendy
Sierra Leone
Eleanor Ewerts

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Planting a Future Promise

Vocation Directors

SSND Vocation/Affiliate Directors from the five countries in which we serve in Africa met recently in Cape Coast, Ghana. Sister Pauline Muoti sent this report.

Formation is a communal process, a service that is offered to a person who is discerning God’s plan. It is a stage that assists the growth in an individual’s journey. We experience formation through our integration of personal and our SSND values to make one and be about the mission. The formators are there to help the new person coming in to the community, to see if her story fits with SSND story regarding their traditions, folktales, theology and customs.

It was with an inmost joy that the gathering of sisters, vocation/affiliate animators at Cape Coast community, Ghana, shared and deliberated on how to cultivate a way forward to planting a future promise. God calls us to nurture our own vocation as we listen to our names being called each moment, every day. This was like comparing our Call with a minute, little seed sowed on the ground, and nurtured to maturity to produce a hundredfold. During the first session, we were called to hold gentle our own vocation story and reflect on how it has been encouraged, strengthened or tested throughout the years as School Sisters of Notre Dame.

The sessions were crowned with moments of fun and exchange of gifts.

the four eleanor plus
Vocation Promotion Ministry welcomes and invites all to be involved and to continue to open our doors to those who feel called.


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My Face is Red!

Yesterday I posted about the early years of School Sisters of Notre Dame in Kenya.  I posted that Sister Mary Martin, one of the original missionaries, was deceased.  Like Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death have been exaggerated!  Sister Mary Martin is very much alive and retired in Chicago!  We are grateful for her years of service to Africa!!