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145th anniversary of first SNDs in the US

Posted on: June 28, 2019 4:00 pm
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Depiction of the SS Rhein in Bremerhaven, Germany.

July 4, 2019 marks the 145th anniversary of the arrival of the first Sisters of Notre Dame in the United States.

Mother Maria Chrysostoma, who served as superior general from 1872-1895, was behind the decision to send six sisters from Germany to the United States. Their destination: the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio.

On June 19, 1874, Mother Chrysostoma, Sr. Mary Aloysia (SND foundress), and six additional SNDs boarded the SS Rhein in Bremerhaven, Germany and headed west. The trip was relatively uneventful, although the sisters did experience two stormy days at sea. On July 3, the sisters reported seeing land in the distance, but they did not dock in New York City until July 4, 1874. Upon arriving in New York, the sisters were frightened by loud booms. They asked, "What is that noise!?" It was the sound of fireworks! They left what was an oppressive environment in Germany at the time and arrived to see citizens celebrating Independence Day and the freedom so many love and seek. 

These nine sisters were welcomed by Franciscan Sisters in Hoboken, New Jersey before departing for Cleveland by train. The group arrived in Cleveland on July 6, 1874. Shortly thereafter, Bishop August Maria Toebbe of the Diocese of Covington, KY arrived in Cleveland, anxious to see if he would find his biological sister, Sr. Mary Modesta, who was a Sister of Notre Dame in Coesfeld, Germany. Unfortunately, Sr. Modesta was not among this group, but did come with the second group of SNDs from Coesfeld. While in Cleveland, Bishop Toebbe asked Mother Chrysostoma if sisters could come and teach in Covington. She agreed that two could fill the positions and on August 15, 1874, the first Sisters of Notre Dame arrived, ready to teach at Mother of God in Covington, KY. 

Photo below: Mother Mary Chrysostoma, the second superior general of the Sisters of Notre Dame


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