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Sisters of Notre Dame (of Cleveland, Ohio)

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A branch of the congregation founded by Blessed Julie Billiart. In 1850, Father Elting of Coesfeld, Germany, aided by the Misses Hildegonda Wollbring and Lisette Kuehling, who became the first members of this community, introduced the Order of Notre dame into Westphalia. The novices were trained by three sisters from the community of Amersfoort, Holland. Soon they were enabled to open a normal school and to take charge of parish schools. The Prussian Government objecting to teachers dependent on foreign authority, the sisters were compelled to sever their relations with the mother-house in Holland and to erect their own at Coesfeld. When in 1871, the Kulturkampf broke out in Germany, the Sisters of Coesfeld, though they had repeatedly received at the Prussian state examinations, the highest testimonials as most efficient teachers, were at once expelled. Thereupon, Father Westerholt, of St. Peter's Church, Cleveland, had Bishop Gilmour invite them to his diocese. On 5 July, 1874, the superioress-general accompanied by eight sisters arrived in New York, and the following day in Cleveland. Their first home was a small frame house near St. Peter's Church. Two months later they took charge of the parish school for girls. Presently Bishop Toebbe of Covington, Ky., invited them to his diocese, where they were first employed as teachers of the Mother of God school in Covington. In the autumn of 1874, the sisters began to conduct the parish schools of St. Stephen's, Cleveland, and of St. Joseph's, Fremont. Within four years of their first arrival on the North American continent, two hundred sisters had been transferred to the missions in Ohio and Kentucky. The centre of the community was temporarily at Covington, where in 1875 a convent with an academy was erected. The same year the superioress-general came to Cleveland, where the mother-house was built and an academy founded in 1878. In 1883 a girls' boarding-school on Woodland Hills was opened. An academy was founded in Toledo, Ohio, and opened September, 1904. Since 1877 the Sisters of Notre Dame have been in charge of two orphanages, one at Cold Springs, Ky., and the other at Bond Hill in the archdiocese of Cincinnati. In May, 1887, the Prussian Government allowed the sisters to return and their mother-house was established at Muhlhausen, Rhenish Prussia. The American branch is under the immediate direction of a privincial superioress, residing in Cleveland, and numbers 430 sisters. The sisters conduct also upwards of forty parish schools, mostly in Ohio and Kentucky, containing about 14,000 pupils.

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