Sisters of Notre Dame Mission into the future

The first Sisters of Notre Dame to arrive in Covington, Kentucky in 1874 displayed a missionary spirit and unwavering trust in God’s goodness and provident care that continue to influence our community today. Those first sisters left their homes and families in Coesfeld, Germany to answer a call and respond to the needs of the world.

Since that call, the presence and ministries of the Sisters of Notre Dame have grown throughout the United States. Four US provinces of the Sisters of Notre Dame currently exist in Covington (KY), Toledo (OH), Chardon (OH), and Thousand Oaks (CA), and ministries in education, healthcare, and social justice abound.

On July 5, 2020, the four SND provinces will form one US province and come together under one leadership team. In order for the incoming administration to be more free for strategic visioning for mission, each province has been making plans for the eldercare of its members and addressing its properties.

Please read on for an important and exciting announcement regarding:

  • the future care of our sisters,
  • plans for a new SND eldercare facility at St. Charles Community,
  • and a reconfiguration of the St. Joseph Heights property.

But first a look at the history of the SNDs in Northern Kentucky...

First Sisters in Covington

During a period in Germany called the Kulturkampf, the Sisters of Notre Dame were exiled from Germany and invited to the Diocese of Covington by Bishop Toebbe whose sister was a member of the congregation. On August 13, 1874, two Sisters of Notre Dame arrived in Covington. Two days later, the sisters were officially welcomed by the pastor of Mother of God Parish and the next day they were faced with young curious children at the parish school.

From 1875 to 1878, Covington served as the center of the international congregation due to the political conditions in Germany. The center, Notre Dame Academy, was located on Fifth Street between Madison Avenue and Montgomery Street.

A New Home: St. Joseph Heights

Enrollment at Notre Dame Academy increased and more and more sisters from Coesfeld, Germany arrived in Covington to teach within the diocese. With the growing community, the need for a larger residence became apparent.

The decision to purchase property for a new residence was made in 1907. In 1924, the sisters in Covington were declared a province of the Sisters of Notre Dame, and in 1927 the new provincial house on Dixie Highway was dedicated following fundraising efforts by the St. Joseph Heights Home Association and several hiatuses due to World War I.

St. Joseph Heights has been home to hundreds of Covington SNDs since 1927 and, we hope, has felt like home to the many friends, family members, and partner organizations we have welcomed over the years.

Since the first Sisters of Notre Dame arrived, the Covington Province has grown in the number of sisters, number and types of ministries, and number of lay partners in the community:

  • Operated St. Aloysius Orphanage in Bond Hill, OH from 1877-2000
  • Operated St. Joseph Children’s Home in Cold Spring, KY from 1877-1961
  • Operated St. John’s Children’s Home in Fort Mitchell, KY beginning in 1957 (St. John’s and St. Joseph Children's Homes merged to become DCCH Center for Children & Families)
  • Ministry in Birmingham, AL began in 1937
  • Ministry in Harlan, KY began in 1957
  • St. Claire Medical Center (now St. Claire HealthCare) opened in Morehead, KY in 1963
  • St. Charles Care Center (now St. Charles Community) opened in 1960
  • Notre Dame Academy moved to Hilton Drive in 1963
  • Mission in Uganda began in 1995
  • Julie Learning Center opened in 1998
  • Notre Dame Urban Education Center opened in 2010
  • Sisters of Notre Dame taught visually impaired children 1957-1966
  • First Associates made covenant in 2004 (now 87 Covington SND Associates)
  • Sisters have provided pastoral care at Rosedale Green, Carmel Manor, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, and Ivy Knoll
  • Service program expanded with trips to Uganda, New Orleans, and Eastern Kentucky
  • Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation outreach expanded with recent marches and letter-writing campaigns against human trafficking and unjust labor practices
The growth and reach of SND ministries over the years is the result of continually assessing the needs of the world and the capacity of the Covington Province to respond with human, financial, and physical resources. In 2019, the Covington Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame continues to assess the needs of the world and seek mission-driven responses.

Expanding Partnerships & Extending Mission

The four current USA provinces of the Sisters of Notre Dame will form one new province on July 5, 2020. Learn more about SND-USA

In this interim period, the four existing provinces are pursuing measures to address their growing eldercare needs and free up resources for mission.

Having one rather than four leadership teams will in itself make more sisters available for non-administrative ministry.

Much remains to be worked out between the present provincial administrations and the future leadership team.

Already the Covington Province has sold most of our multiple-story, non-provincial center properties and sisters have moved to leased housing where they can live on a single floor.

We have been through many studies in the course of determining what comes next for St. Joseph Heights, which provides residences, healthcare, and administrative offices for the Covington sisters.

Currently 60% of our 89 members reside in the Covington provincial center building (39% of those sisters reside on our Lourdes Hall Care Center floor).

A record number of women in the United States professed vows in the mid-20th century and are now at or nearing retirement age. For the next 15 or so years, this cohort will require healthcare beyond what we are able to address with our current program and in our current facility.

The 150,000+ square foot provincial center is neither right-sized nor appropriately configured for elder living. There is a high cost in maintaining a building of this size, and there is great complexity in delivering our own healthcare. It is not feasible to do this going forward.

Retrofitting the St. Joseph Heights property and continuing to hire and manage our own healthcare staff would in the long run divert more funds into internal care than would building a new facility and entrusting care to a site where there is expertise in managing eldercare.

With the care of our sisters and the coming together as SND-USA as our motivation, there are three aspects that we are now considering through partnerships with our current sponsored ministries.

  1. Construction of a new, higher level of care facility at St. Charles Community (SCC).
  2. Integration of sisters into current residential spaces at St. Charles Community as early as summer 2019.
  3. Reconfiguration of the current provincial center and its use, presumably by Notre Dame Academy.

The St. Charles Connection

We plan to construct a 16-unit SND eldercare building on the St. Charles Community (SCC) property.

When the Sisters of Notre Dame no longer have need of the building, we would turn it over to SCC, which could then integrate lay residents and pursue appropriate licensing.

Other sisters currently living at St. Joseph Heights who would not require extensive services would gradually move into studio apartments in the SCC Lodge as early as summer 2019.

We are also open to pursuing other suitable housing arrangements.

What happens to the current provincial center?

A task force has recently been formed at Notre Dame Academy (NDA) with Sister Mary Judine Lambert as the SND representative to explore the feasibility of NDA taking on the management of the current provincial center.

It is anticipated that most of the existing structure would be taken down, but the original iconic building would be preserved. The new SND-USA province would lease office space and some housing space for sisters who would not require extensive services. Members of the task force will soon visit the property to evaluate how NDA could eventually integrate the building as a campus facility and how it could be funded.

The iconic facade of the Covington Provincial Center (St. Joseph Heights) on Dixie Highway. The original building was dedicated in 1927. Mary Hall was added in 1958 and Joseph Hall was added in 1980 (Lourdes Hall Care Center extends between these two additions).

It is our intention that the new SND-USA province will continue to prioritize mission and the life-giving relationships that have empowered our ministries from the beginning.

While we Sisters of Notre Dame are planning many internal changes and embracing personal transitions, our organizational outreach and commitment to our ministries will not only remain, but will hopefully be emboldened by the strengthened connections with sisters and lay partners around the United States.

  • Residents at St. Charles Community can expect to receive the same quality care.
  • The Notre Dame Urban Education Center will continue to serve students, families, and schools in the Northern Kentucky urban core.
  • The laughter from students at Julie Learning Center will still fill the halls on the ground floor of the provincial center.
  • St. Claire HealthCare will continue its outreach in Morehead, KY and its environs.
  • Notre Dame Academy will educate young women to make a difference for years to come.
  • St. Julie Mission in Uganda is growing, as is the number of young women joining as Sisters of Notre Dame through our East Africa Delegation.
  • Associates will continue to extend the Notre Dame charism in their lives and will welcome new members.
  • Sisters will provide pastoral care to the sick, the elderly, and the homebound, and will continue to listen to the needs of the Northern Kentucky community and our greater global community, ready to respond through God’s goodness and provident care.
This is an exciting endeavor and a major change for the SNDs as an organization, but also for 88 individual sisters who care deeply for the local NKY community and who, of our living sisters, have ministered here since 1947. Please keep in touch as our planning progresses.

Fast Facts

About the Sisters of Notre Dame

  • The Sisters of Notre Dame are an international congregation of women religious serving in 19 countries
  • We are an active apostolic congregation of nearly 2,000 members worldwide and over 500 in the United States
  • Four SND provinces in the United States (Covington, KY, Chardon, OH, Toledo, OH, Thousand Oaks, CA)
  • First SNDs arrived in Covington in 1874
  • Covington Province is home of the St. Joseph Heights Provincial Center; dedicated in 1927
  • Currently 88 professed members at Covington Province

Covington SND-Sponsored Institutions:

  • Julie Learning Center
  • Notre Dame Academy
  • Notre Dame Urban Education Center
  • St. Charles Community
  • St. Claire HealthCare

Covington Provincial Leadership Team (through 2020)

  • Sister Mary Ethel Parrott, Provincial
  • Sister Jean Marie Hoffman, Assistant Provincial
  • Sister Mary Judine Lambert, Provincial Councilor and Treasurer
  • Sister Maria Therese Schappert, Provincial Councilor and Secretary


The four current USA provinces of the Sisters of Notre Dame will form one new province on July 5, 2020.

  • Summer 2019 - Sisters in the United States will discern regarding a new provincial for SND-USA
  • Fall 2019 - New SND-USA leadership team will be formed
  • July 5, 2020 - Four provinces will officially become one new SND-USA province

Three mission priorities of SND-USA:

  1. Sponsored Education and Health Care Ministries
  2. Ministries on the Margins
  3. Young Adult Ministries and Initial Formation
Thank you to the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati community and the individuals who have shown us God’s goodness and the power of partnership since 1874.

Contact and Media Inquiries

main: (859)291-2040 email: info@sndky.org

address: 1601 Dixie Highway, Covington, KY 41011 website: www.sndky.org

facebook: www.facebook.com/sndky twitter: www.twitter.com/SNDCovington


Created with images by Dev - "mr hand 3"

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