Become an Associate

You Are Invited!

“What matters is that you serve God not as much as you want, but as much as is possible for you.”

Blessed Mary Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger Foundress, School Sisters of Notre Dame
SIsters and Associates

In a spirit of joy, hope and reconciliation, Sisters and Associates together make Christ visible.

We invite you to join us. As an Associate, you join with the School Sisters of Notre Dame in carrying out the mission of Jesus Christ in the spirit of Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger, our foundress, to bring all into oneness with God and assist others to grow into the fullness of their potential.

For more information please send email to

Learn about Becoming an Associate

Who can be an Associate?

Associates are women and men 21 years of age and older who feel called to live Gospel values in the spirit and vision of Blessed Theresa of Jesus, foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, within their own lifestyle. 
To be an Associate, your personal faith tradition and spirit must be in harmony with the SSND charism:   to struggle for unity, the oneness of God, and to make community wherever we are and with whomever we find ourselves. 

Associates and Sisters enrich and challenge each another to share their gifts, their faith lives and a commitment to risk in faith as people of peace, hope, justice and love.

What does it mean to be an Associate?

As an SSND Associate you will become part of a group of women and men who are connected to the spirit and vision of Blessed Theresa of Jesus as embodied in the living community of School Sisters of Notre Dame in the world today. 

Together, Sisters and Associates strive to live out the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ within the lifestyle to which each is called and to support and enrich each other with their unique gifts.

An Associate enters into a formal relationship with the SSND community in the form of a covenant:  an exchange of promises between the Associate and the community that is renewable annually by mutual agreement.

The Associate promises:

  • to deepen personal and communal prayer
  • to participate in appropriate local and regional activities (prayer days, extended faith communities, social justice actions, province and
    associate gatherings)
  • to live the spirit of SSND in her/his respective lifestyle
  • to extend the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into service for God’s people.
  • The community promises to share SSND heritage, spirituality, mission and ministry, and lived experience with the associate.
  • In practice, as their time and preferences permit, Associates gather with other Associates and Sisters, attend appropriate province events, work with SSNDs in various ministries, engage in social justice activities with SSNDs and other associates and volunteer their time at SSND care facilities or outreach ministries.

How to become an Associate

If you are interested in becoming an SSND Associate, you may begin by expressing your interest to Suzanne Blackburn, our Directors of Associates, or to any SSND or SSND Associate.

You will receive a letter with additional information, including the names of those who coordinate the SSND Associate gatherings in your geographic area and an explanation of the application and preparation process.

Once you have read this information, you may contact a coordinator in your area with additional questions or to begin the application process.
Everyone begins as a Pre-Associate and spends a period of time working with an SSND or SSND Associate to deepen her/his own prayer and spirituality and to learn about the charism, spirituality, heritage, mission and ministry of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.  Pre-associates are also invited to attend Associate gatherings in their area. 

During this time the Pre-Associate and Sisters have the opportunity to develop a relationship which will help them to discern together if the Pre-Associate is called to a covenant relationship as an SSND Associate.

Associate and Pre-Associate Resources

Welcome, Pre-Associates and Companions!

Welcome, Pre-Associates and Companions!

As you explore the call to become an associate of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, you and your companion have been reflecting on the text and images in Each One's Journey: Wholly Without Precedent, the pre-associate journal.  The suggestions below will connect you to resources that will enhance your reflection on the elements of your formation.

God’s Call - Phase 1

Pope Francis has written an apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate: On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World.  Chapter One, in particular, applies to this phase of pre-associate preparation. Click Here to Read

Richard Rohr, OFM,  a well-known ecumenical teacher, speaks and writes on prayer and God’s image.  You may find the following links helpful.

For a visual approach to images of God, you may wish to take a look at this video prepared by the Jesuits of South Africa.
    Ignatian Spirituality: Images of God 

As you reflect on God’s image during this phase, you may be inspired by Karen Drucker’s song, “The Face of God.”

SSND Heritage - Phase 2

The Heritage Library page offers a number of resources on important figures in SSND heritage, including presentations on Blessed Theresa and Mother Caroline, St. Augustine, St. Peter Fourier, and Blessed Alix LeClerc. Click here

Sister Judith Best’s SSND Heritage site, Sturdy Roots provides a wonderful historical overview of the lives and contributions of Blessed Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger and Mother Caroline Freiss.

Here is a link to a video about the challenges faced by Mother Caroline.  It was created by the SSNDs of St. Louis. Click here

Here is a link to an article on Mother Caroline's travels. Click here

We, sisters and associates, are mindful that our charism flows through our founders and all who have come before us. Joyce Johnson Rouse’s song is a favorite. 

Standing on the Shoulders

Please enjoy this article by Sr Louise Vanderploeg: "The Spirituality of Blessed Mary Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger, Foundress of the Congregation of The School Sisters of Notre Dame"  (Click Here)

Mission - Phase 3

Father Steve Bevans gave a great presentation on the mission at the annual SSND leadership meeting in January.  Click here to watch.

Donald Senior, CP, gave the following keynote address to the delegates of the SSND General Chapter in September 2017, on the biblical roots of the SSND mission.
In this TED Talk, Pope Francis discusses building the future. (Click Here)

The School Sisters of Notre Dame and their associates continue to advance their mission in a variety of ways.  The province website provides information and links to current ministries that SSND sponsors and/or in which sisters and associates are active.

Love Gives Everything” the Directional Statement of the 24th General Chapter can be found here 

Also, please watch the Integral Vision Series with reflections on the Directional Statement (Click here)

To get a sense of the global reach of the SSND mission, go to the international website

In the Atlantic-Midwest Province, both advocacy for issues of social justice and direct action are central to the mission. The province website provides a variety of informational resources and opportunities of action, among them

Concern for the planet is an essential element of the SSND mission. The School Sisters of Notre Dame committed in 2021 to be a Laudato Si congregation. The following links provide an introduction to Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.  The first is an animation; the second is the official Vatican video. A link to the text of the encyclical is also provided.

Sister Sharon Kanis presented this talk on Interculturality at the 2019 Area Coordinators Meeting (Click here)

In this Ted Talk, novelist Chimamanda Adichie describes “The Danger of a Single Story.” (Click Here)

 The song “We Are Called” is often sung at Atlantic-Midwest Province events (Click Here

Community - Phase 4

The School Sisters of Notre Dame are an international congregation.  For a sense of the international community, go to

The SSND call to community flows from our understanding of God as Trinity. Richard Rohr, CP, discusses God as relationship.

This video is a prayerful reflection on the international congregation

In the summer of 2018, Sister Teresa May, CCVI, gave the following address Comunión “En Salida” to the LCWR.

The ancient hymn “Salve Regina” is precious to the School Sisters of Notre Dame, reminding them of their bond in a community dedicated to Mary.  
Salve Regina

You Are Sent is the Constitution that unites SSNDs throughout the world. In June, 2023, Sister Rosemary Howarth, former Superior General of the International Congregation, facilitated a retreat on You Are Sent for Associates. In these three videos (part 2 and 3 will be posted in Sept) S Rosemary explores the historical context and spirituality of the SSND constitution. 

Part 1

Part 2

Resources for Formation Leaders and Companions

Associate News

Joan Pikiell and Dawn Graf

By Sister Debbie Liesen, SSND, Director of Associates

It is my delight and privilege to share with you a list of the AMSSND Associates who will be celebrating a milestone anniversary in 2024.

These women pray with us, participate in local and...

Earlier this spring, Deirdre Pike, SSND Associate (34 years!) had the privilege of traveling to Ottawa for a climate justice advocacy effort on Canada’s Parliament Hill. Working with the Office of Religious Congregations for Integral Ecology (ORCIE), Deirdre was one of eight people of various...

By SSND Associate Kathi Barth

On March 9, 2024, Sisters, Associates, and guests gathered for their annual Lenten Retreat.  This year’s leader, Sister Lorrita Verhey, SSND, chose the theme “Did You See him?” 

She first spoke of how those who saw Jesus after his resurrection did...