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.
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, 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)