In 1839, Jean-Baptiste Purcell, Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, visited Europe in search of sisters who would teach the uneducated in his diocese. Mère Ignace, who always wanted to be a missionary in America, was touched when she heard the Bishop’s request in Namur.
In 1840, eight sisters left Antwerp, Belgium to be the first missionaries. They were Sisters Louis de Gonzague Monseu, Superior, Xavier Houba, Melanie Hamoir, Rosine Matagne, Ignatia Walle, Marie Pauline Herreboudt, Humbelina Montal and Louise Van der Schrieck.
The first Notre Dame school in America opened at Sixth Street, Cincinnati, on January 18, 1841. Through the years, the sisters earned a good reputation for the education offered to their students in parish elementary and secondary schools, in catechetical programs, for their commitment to pastoral ministry, peace and justice outreach and a variety of other ministries.
On October 31, 2009, on the 169th anniversary of the sisters’ arrival in Cincinnati in order to found our charism and ministry of education in the United States, the Maryland Unit merged with the Ohio Unit. A White Oak tree representing Maryland is planted on the Mount Notre Dame property in Ohio and a Honey Locust representing Ohio is planted on the grounds of Villa Julie in Maryland.