There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  

1 Corinthians 12:4-7

A charism is a gift of the Spirit to be shared in service to the church and world. What is our SSND charism?

In the prologue to our constitution, You Are Sent, we explain our charism by talking about the people who influence what we do and how we do it.

*We, School Sisters of Notre Dame, hold as essential to our constitution, life and mission,

  • Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father, sends us in the power of the Spirit, to proclaim the gospel by our lives;
  • the church, which by its very nature, continues the presence and mission of Christ;
  • the world, which is the concrete situation in which we carry out Christ’s mission;
  • our charism, which gives focus to our life and mission.
Blessed M. Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger

Our charism, gift of the Spirit, was embodied in

Blessed Mary Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger …

who longing for the oneness of all in God, grounded the congregation in Eucharist, anchored it in poverty and dedicated it to Mary.

A woman of faith, ever seeking God’s will, she struggled for unity in our international community and responded to urgent needs, preferring the poor and educating with a world vision…

Our charism flows from our spiritual heritage, especially the gifts of …

St. Augustine who formed a community to be of one heart and one soul, seeing in the Trinity the basis, source and goal of all community . He wrote “What drew me closest to my brothers and sisters was the delight of chatting and laughing together, of showing our affection for one another by kindly services, of reading together from books that spoke of pleasant things, of joking together amicably, of disputing now and then but without resentment, as one is wont to do with himself, of awakening by rare contest the pleasure of being one in mind, of mutually instructing on another, of longing for the absent one, and tasting joy of his return. We loved each other with all our hearts, and these marks of our friendship that were shown in our faces, by our voices, in our eyes and a thousand other ways, were among us like ardent flames that fused our soul together, and of many made but one.  Augustine, Confessions, Bk. IV, vii, xiii


Blessed Alix Le Clerc  and St. Peter Fourier who gave a new direction to religious life, insisting that ministry be integral to the community. The ministry they chose was that of educating young girls and women.  At first many doubt that their effort would make a difference. Quickly the parents saw a positive change in their daughters.  The movement to educate women grew.

Fr. Franz Sebastian Job

Bishop George Michael Wittmann and Father Francis Sebastian Job, who held Christian education for girls as their special concern. Father Job pointed out that if “a new, superior generation is to appear, if better times are to come, the beginning must be made by training female youth.”  ( The Spirit of the Constitutions for the Religious Congregation of Poor School of Notre Dame  as found in Gregory Thomas Ziegler, A Brief Sketch of the Life of the Reverend Francis Sebastian Job, Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1930, p. 177.

  Mother Caroline Friess image

Mother Caroline Friess, who through courageous leadership, adapted the congregation to life on another continent, perceptively reading the signs of the times, risking innovative response to the needs of the new world. She oversaw the establishment of over 200 institutions, educating youth of all ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds.  Mother Caroline saw the importance of educating young women and established evening classes for women who worked during the day.

Our charism continues to develop in the living community, which, enriched by the past, enables the congregation to unfold in the present and to be challenged by the future. In a spirit of creative fidelity to Jesus Christ, the church, and our charism, we commit ourselves …to continue the mission of Christ for which we have been consecrated.

Through the power of the Spirit, we carry out this mission particularly through

  • our efforts toward unity
  • our community life
  • our ministry directed toward education
  • our common search for and doing of God’s will.

Mary, Mother of the Church and of our congregation, gently challenges us: Do whatever he tells you. (John 2:5)