Sisters of Notre Dame
The story of Notre Dame Academy cannot be told without telling the story of the Sisters of Notre Dame - their mission, charism, and history.
“Charism” is a special word. It encompasses grace given by God, as well as the living way of experiencing God. It is an expression of God’s continuous care for creation, as well as the fire that transforms those who touch it. For the Sisters of Notre Dame, that charism impels their mission to let God’s goodness and provident care work through them to touch the lives of all to whom they minister.
Every student at NDA knows and loves the founding story. In Prussia in the mid-1800s, Hilligonde Wolbring and her friend and fellow teacher Elisabeth Kuhling provided a caring home where neglected children could live. The two women continued their mission as members of a religious community formed in the spirit of St. Julie Billiart. Hilligonde became Sister Maria Aloysia, the foundress of the congregation, and Elisabeth became Sister Maria Ignatia. The new religious congregation, Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld, was born of the deep experience of God’s goodness and provident care.
Forced to leave Prussia due to religious persecution, the Superior General and eight Sisters emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1874. Today the Sisters of Notre Dame carry on their mission and charism, serving in 18 countries on five continents.
In 1924, Reverend Mother Mary Cecilia said to Sister Mary Bernard, “Go out to California and build a house of love,” and there we find the beginnings of our own NDA. In 1945, the Sisters purchased four acres and the colonial home that remains the heart of our campus. They quickly began planning and building the elementary school which opened in April 1946. The school was dedicated on September 29, 1946, with these concluding words, "Today the new school is christened, bears the name of Notre Dame, and is placed under the patronage of our Blessed Mother. No project under her patronage can fail - that which is dedicated to Mary must succeed." Today Notre Dame Academy continues to be recognized as a premier school in West Los Angeles. The history of the Sisters of Notre Dame shows that our students have a perfect example before them, in the history of our beloved Sisters.
We are grateful to have the charism and love of the Sisters of Notre Dame guiding our way.