More than 200 years ago, St. Julie Billiart and Françoise Blin de Bourdon established a mission founded on the value of education, especially for the poorest among us.

Today, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur continue the work of changing lives through education, counseling and other services. Many people here know of Mount Notre Dame High School — operated by the sisters for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati — and its accomplishments. Some might have witnessed members of the SNDdeN’s Ohio Province tutoring children at Corryville Catholic or other schools.

At their annual Partners in Action luncheon, Sr. Mary Ann Barnhorn, SNDdeN’s director of development, addressed some misconceptions about religious orders, and her sisters in particular.

Myth No. 1:
Sisters have nothing to worry about because the Archdiocese of Cincinnati takes care of them.

Oh, not so. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur do not receive any compensation from any diocese.

Myth No. 2:
All Sisters live in big convents, behind huge walls, on the top of some hill somewhere, where everything they need is provided.

The truth is, the days of large institutional living are gone. Most of our Sisters live in small communities, in houses that are right in the mix of the neighborhood, and close to our ministries. And we shop in the same Kroger and Walgreens as you.

Myth No. 3:
Sisters are a bunch of freelancers, working by themselves and not really true to their mission.

The reality is, our mission requires us to look for unmet educational needs. That means, for the most part, going where no one else will go. That’s why there are eight sisters working at Corryville Catholic Elementary School.

Myth No. 4:
Once you start funding a ministry for the Sisters, you might as well consider yourself their ATM forever.

The reality is, there are any number of cases where supporting a new ministry has quickly returned a positive ROI. Sister Anne Rene McConn is just one example. With seed money from our community, she started a ministry to rehab houses for low-income working families in our city. She also assembled a strong board of business leaders who helped secure the program’s future. Not long ago, she turned over the administration of this healthy, self-supporting program to two paid staffers.

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