School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education


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

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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.


1 Comment

40th Anniversary Remembrances

Sisters Maris Simon and Mara Frundt were in the first group of School Sisters of Notre Dame to minister in Kenya.  They share some of their remembrances from that experience.

Sister Maris Simon still ministers in Kenya and she writes:

My personal remembrances of the early days in Kenya are still very fresh in my mind and I think the overwhelming one was gratitude to God for all that was happening around and inside of me. I can remember waking up in the morning and wondering if it was really true that I was in Africa. I think the transition was made much easier for us because of our close relationship with the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. Over the years we had educated ten of their Sisters at Good Counsel and other colleges near by. Our original call to Kenya was to staff an Upgrading School for 40 of their Sisters who had been released from their ministries. These Sisters were so understanding of our needs and lack of experience in the African culture. We continue to see each other and relate with them even after 40 years. The changes that happened to me because of my experiences in Kenya will always be some of my most profound.

Sister Maris is introduced to Bishop Otunga of Nairobi.

Sister Maris is introduced to Bishop Otunga of Nairobi.

Sister Maris is a part of the Postulant Formation Community today.

Sister Maris is a part of the Postulant Formation Community today.

Sisters Maris, Mara and Mary Martin were the first SSNDs to go to Kenya

Sisters Maris, Mara and Mary Martin were the first SSNDs to go to Kenya

Sister Mara, kneeling, second from right) is now one of the Novice Directors.

Sister Mara, kneeling second from right, is currently one of the Novice Directors.

Sister Mary Frundt is currently one of the Novice Directors in Ghana. She writes:

We had had a lovely ritual of sendoff in the Mankato Province shortly before to which our families were invited. Being the first sisters to go to Africa from Mankato was significant and so we really had a special send off. We arrived in Rome on August 23rd. Who would have thought I would be here today, 40 years later, still ministering in Africa. We spent five days in the Generalate and again had a very lovely Mass in the Generalate Chapel and blessing from Mother Georgianne Segner before we left for Kenya. We arrived in Kenya August 28th which was significant to us being the feast of St. Augustine.<br />
We were met at the airport by Mother Stephen Nkoitoi FSJ and her sister driver Sr. Catherine and taken to Flora Hostel where we would rest until the next day. Mother Stephen was the first Superior General of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, a diocesan congregation with their motherhouse in Asumbi. She was not a stranger to us as she had been in Mankato for my Final Profession August 3rd. Two of her sisters also made Final vows in the same ceremony. She even attended the home Mass in Blue Earth, my home, the day after and spent time in with my family. It was a grand reunion to be met by her in Nairobi.<br />
The following day as I recall Sr. Mary Martin was not well so she remained behind at the Hostel and Mara and Maris went with Mother Stephen and Sr. Catherine the long journey of about eight or more hours to Asumbi. I don’t remember well if we met the bishop then but we did meet many sisters, many of whom would be our students. After two days we returned to Nairobi to begin our study of the Swahili language and continued to stay for three months at the Flora Hostel which was run by the Consolata Sisters. We loved it there as the sisters were very good to us and we met many other missionaries who came through Nairobi and, not having houses in Nairobi, stayed for short periods at the hostel.<br />
Thus began our sojourn in Africa which still continues. Many chapters could fill a book about these past 40 years. I am in Rome now with Mary Kerber originally from Mankato, Provincial leader of Africa, Julie Lattner of Canada who is Director of Temporary Professed sisters in Africa, Grace Okon, Provincial Councillor from Nigeria, Masicha Carolyne and Petronella Muteshi, Postulant Directors from Kenya and forty plus other SSND leaders and formators from around the world to work on our programs for Initial Formation of our new members. Having three African Sisters here speaks of the fruits of our presence and ministry in Africa these past forty years.<br />
I can only say I am one very grateful SSND for being called to mission in Africa when I was young and having been able to serve here 30 of the past 40 years in Kenya and now Ghana. It has been blessing upon blessing and I thank God and SSND for the call and my family for their faithful support.

Sister Mary Martin, one of the original group, is now retired in Chicago. Later that fall, three more sisters joined the first group in Kenya. Here are a few more pictures from those “early days”.

Sister Kathryn Berger and little friend.

Sister Kathryn Berger and little friend.


Sister Dianne Perry

Sister Dianne Perry teaches Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph.

Sister Dianne Perry teaches Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph.