School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education


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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 http://www.ssnd.org/aboutus/new sisters  for more stories.

SISTER MAGDALENE AKPAN

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.

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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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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


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Vocation Directors in Africa

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

Ghana
Irene B Arthur irenebarthur@yahoo.com
Nigeria
Theodorah Ihiro  ihirotheodorah@yahoo.com
Janet Odey janetssnd@yahoo.com
Kenya
Magdalene Akpan magpoly84@yahoo.com
Mary Goretti Aboge mary_aboge@yahoo.com
The Gambia
Mary J Mendy mendy.mariej@yahoo.com
Sierra Leone
Eleanor Ewerts eleanorewerts@yahoo.com


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Fire Destroys Hostel

We received this news from Sister Joyce Nyakwama, SSND, who is the Principal of Notre Dame Secondary School, Mkar, Nigeria.

June 15th, at exactly 8.00 pm, a fire whose source we do not yet know, razed down the right wing of the old convent that is used as hostel for 50 of our students. Despite the fact that the students lost literally everything, we are so grateful to our dear and faithful protector God that there were no casualties or injuries. Students were in class for their night studies when this happened.

The right wing of the hostel burnt to a condemned state while the left wing of the hostel was finally saved by a generous crowd of youth and adults, men and women who responded to our cry of distress. Our parish priest, Fr. Michael Dogo was first at the scene. Really the gesture from everybody was just overwhelming. Even our bishop, Most Rev. William Avenya was at the scene in 30 minutes time and he, like everybody else was helping to put off the fire. He later addressed the students calling for calm among them, prayed over and blessed them. It is coincidental that Sr. Vic , a Provincial Councilor was with us in community on visitation when it happened.

We ask you to keep us in your prayers as we now embark on assessing the cause of the fire, soliciting for assistance to the students who lost everything, in particular JSS 3 (Junior Secondary Students, year 3)students who, upon completion of the BECE (Basic Education Certificate Exams) examinations, had packed all their note books and text books in the same hostel as they were preparing to leave for their long vacation on Saturday 21st of June, and reconstruction of the virtually condemned section of the hostel. Please see attached pictures.

Sister Joyce in front of the destroyed hostel,

Sister Joyce in front of the destroyed hostel,

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Blessing of Hostel at Notre Dame, Mkar

From Sister Joyce Nyakwama in Mkar, Nigeria

On Thursday, the 17th of October 2013, Notre Dame Secondary School had a big reason to thank the Lord: The successful completion of the Ground floor of the Hostel. This was actually intended to take place on the 24th Of October, our Foundation Day, but our guest for the day was to be away on our preferred day. The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Most Rev. William Amove Avenya put on hold two important activities of that day to be with us. It was indeed a great rejoicing for all of us as we sung and shared in the blessings not only of our new hostel but also our fairly well equipped infirmary (with at least the basic medication and equipment) and our trained resident nurse. We thank God for this great achievement. Indeed the bishop is very happy with us and at the same time very grateful for all the wonderful work we are doing to enable the girl child for her full participation in the church and society of tomorrow. Please photos in the gallery in the sidebar