Heritage Materials

The Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame came into being in Coesfeld, Germany in 1850. In 1849, two young teachers, Hilligonde Wolbring and Elisabeth Kühling, befriended orphaned and neglected children and took them into Hilligonde’s home where they educated and cared for them. Both young women had been educated in the spiritual and pedagogical tradition of Reverend Bernard Overberg.


Their spiritual director, Reverend Theodor Elting, invited them to consider religious life. Three Sisters of Notre Dame of Amersfoort, The Netherlands, came to Coesfeld in 1850 to give these two women preparatory training for religious life. The Amersfoort congregation had received their spirit and rule from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, founded in France by Julie Billiart in 1804.

Hilligonde became Sister Maria Aloysia, and Elisabeth, Sister Maria Ignatia. Both these pioneers were soon joined by Gertrud Perger, later known as Sister Maria Bernarda, who was pivotal in engrafting Educational Principles in the Sisters and lay staff, both in Germany and the United States.

Today the Sisters of Notre Dame, a Marian family of women religious, serve the Church throughout the world in education and other ministries. Together with their lay collaborators, they continue to be bearers of hope and joy, witnessing to God’s goodness and provident care.

Additional Resources

To Coesfeld from Julie- Notes on SND Coesfeld tradition and thought which traces the founding from Amersfoort and Namur.

St. Julie: Rapture in Action Commentary- An artistic explanation of one aspect of St. Julie’s spirituality.

A Brief History of the Sisters of Notre Dame Coesfeld, Germany- A brief history set in the context of the four seasons of the year. 

Ceramic Relief of the SND Story- A visual explanation of the history of the SNDs shown in ceramic rendering. 

Reflections on Sr. Maria Aloysia Wolbring- Words from the foundress.

A Bit About Bernard Overberg- A three page backgrounder on the life and influence of Bernard Overberg. His catechesis and pedagogy shaped the congregation. 

The Apple of His Eye- What Hilligonde Wolbring (Sr. Mary Aloysia) learned and lived from Bernard Overberg.

Bernard Overberg: Spiritual and Pedagogical Principles- Insights and quotations from Bernard Overberg drawn from the paper prepared for the International Education Conference in 2007 by Sr. Margaret Gorman, SND.

Transplanting the Tradition- A brief history of Bernard Overberg’s life and his educational philosophy.

Coesfeld Crucifix- Commentary on the Coesfeld Crucifix 

SND Coat of Arms- An explanation of the SND congregational coat of arms.

SND Congregational Cross and Explanation- A one page explanation of the symbolism. 

Key Dates in the Life of St. Julie Billiart and Coesfeld Foundresses- A timeline of SND Foundresses and their lifetime milestones. 

Quotations from Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring: Foundress of the Coesfeld Sisters of Notre Dame- Words of wisdom from our Co-foundress.

Quotations of St. Julie- Words of wisdom from our Co-foundress. 

Exploring Our Coesfeld Roots: Quotes from Bernard Overberg- A model of the idea “Every Human Being is Our Neighbor”

Foundation Day Intro and Prayer- An introduction and prayer for Foundation Day. 

Foundation Day Story and Prayer- Historical context of Foundation Day.

Foundation Day Poster  Brief Foundation Day Story by Sr. Jessica Karlinger

Schools Celebrate Foundation Day- Schools celebrating Foundation Day in unique ways. 

Founding Group of Five- A collage of the founding Foundation Day members.

The Educational Legacy of Father Bernard Overberg Joseph Waler Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School

The Seed - Reflections on the life of Sr. Maria Aloysia Wolbring

Quotes from Bernard Overberg  

May 6 - Sr. Aloysia Death - The story of Sr. Maria Aloysia's death on May 6, 1889 (written in 2019 by Sr. Maria Teresita Richards)

May 6 2019 poster - Reflection on May 6, 1889 by Sr. Mary Jessica Karlinger (written in 2019)

May 13 Feast of St. Julie - Why the Coesfeld Sisters of Notre Dame call Julie Billiart their spiritual mother, by Sr. Mary Jessica Karlinger (written in 2019)