Leaving Elm Grove

School Sisters of Notre Dame make their way to a new home

By Mount Mary University

Posted on December 14, 2021

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By Mariel Kreuziger, SSND

We, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, will be moving soon to Trinity Woods on the Mount Mary University campus. We look at this move full of emotions—eagerness, anxiety, a new venture, a call to mission and sadness and loss—to name a few. 

Moving to the Mount Mary campus is a coming home of sorts, to the place where many of us were educated. This presents a new and different kind of educational opportunity and we ask ourselves, how are we being called to be educators in this new environment? 

Being present to others
Certainly, it will be different than our home at Notre Dame of Elm Grove. We will be interacting more closely with other senior citizens and female students with children under 12. We will eat with them, pray with them, be more available to socialize and help with homework, and be near when someone is hurting.

We’ve been doing all this, but at Trinity Woods, we will be living with them. That can be a great opportunity to carry on our mission of being one; something Jesus wants for all. We need to become grounded in that opportunity. Living Jesus’ life, living our faith in Jesus’ way, reaching out beyond ourselves.

Living in community
Second, most of us were trained in religious life many, many years ago and are familiar with concepts like convent, enclosure, silence, etc. But religious life keeps evolving, just like everything else. We see more deeply into the message of Jesus, to go out to the world; that’s what we are doing.

We still treasure silence, alone time, prayer time, but we are now stretching outward once again to others. These ‘others’ are also being called to Jesus’ way. All have been called, not to seclude ourselves, but to reach beyond and interact with all.

Saying goodbye
Will we miss Elm Grove? Yes, especially walking in our beautiful outdoors, visiting our dear deceased Sisters, who we shared life and ministry with, prayed with, rejoiced with and followed in the footsteps of our Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger and Mother Caroline.

We will miss walking in procession down our grape arbor as we celebrate big events. We may even miss our oneness at prayer, meals and meetings, just to be by ourselves. However, I’m sure there will be opportunity for that also. We need that to build community, to become one. Sometimes families also need some alone time to pray together, to celebrate, to build community.

Responding to God’s call
We are going on mission again to a new place. God is calling us and we are packing to respond once again. We have loved Elm Grove, the land God gave us so many years ago, but as the saying goes, ‘We have no resting place.’ Others used and reverenced this land before us and now we pray that the new owners will respect this land and care for it as we tried to do. Yes, there is nostalgia for the castle, but it will not be taken down. It is a reminder of our roots, when Mother Caroline wanted a place to care for orphaned children, and also a retirement place in the country for her senior Sisters. 

God has cared for us beyond measure and we are grateful. God is still caring for us and we are still grateful. Our ministry has taken us many places during our lives as women religious. Our ministry has challenged us in so many different ways with things we never dreamed we could do.

Moving forward
And now God is asking us once more to go forward and serve His people in a whole new way. This was Blessed Theresa’s vision when she saw how neglected girls in rural areas in Germany were not being given an opportunity to become educated. Blessed Theresa saw this need in her time and now, we, her daughters, are being asked to see the needs in our time: helping single mothers with children get a better education so they can get a job that pays a living wage.

We pray that our young adult women will see a need they can respond to through the education they are receiving, to build a better world for all.