The SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME in Cleveland, who arrived in 1874, represent the first U.S. location of this international Roman Catholic religious order. Once the motherhouse for the order, this province spawned provincial centers in Covington, KY (1924), Toledo, OH (1924) and Thousand Oaks, CA (1961). The sisters trace their roots to a congregation founded in Holland and the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, Belgium (founded 1816). The order became a separate congregation in 1850, working in Coesfield, Germany. On 6 July 1874, 4 years after Bismarck closed Catholic convents and schools in Germany, the first Notre Dame sisters, including Sr. Mary Aloysia, arrived in Cleveland to teach at the school of ST. PETER'S CHURCH and in other German-speaking parishes. They were invited by Bp. RICHARD GILMOUR at the request of Fr. Westerholt of St. Peter's. The sisters lived in a frame house on Huntington (E. 18th) St. They established NOTRE DAME ACADEMY for girls in 1877 and moved to St. Peter's in 1878. This building complex (completed 1896) served as the Notre Dame Motherhouse until the government of the congregation returned to Germany in 1888 (and then moved to Rome in 1947). By 1915 the order and its academy moved to 1325 Ansel Rd., and in 1922 founded NOTRE DAME COLLEGE for Women there. Notre Dames now taught in other parishes and ran Mt. St. Mary's Institute, a home for half-orphans and homeless children (1884-1929).

The sisters established Regina High School (1953) in SOUTH EUCLID and the JULIE BILLIART SCHOOL (1954) in LYNDHURST. In 1957 the order opened a kindergarten in Chardon, OH, which later became the Notre Dame Elementary School. In the next decade, the following operations centered at 13000 Auburn Rd. in Chardon: provincial administration and the health center for elderly and ill members (1960); Notre Dame Academy (1963, which became the coeducational Notre Dame-CATHEDRAL LATIN School in 1988) and Notre Dame Montessori (1970). The order's first provincial center, at E. 18th St., became the Catholic Women's Hall (1917), then was sold to the diocese in 1956 and became a residence for the faculty of St. Peter's (later Erieview Catholic) High School. By early 1992 about 360 Sisters of Notre Dame worked in northeast Ohio in publishing, early childhood and adult education, and pastoral work, in addition to the traditional teaching and educational administration. An additional 160 sisters of the Chardon province served elsewhere.

Sisters of Notre Dame Provincial Archives, Chardon, Ohio.


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