Educating a diverse population in the liberal arts

For personal, professional and global responsibility

In the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame

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Notre Dame College, led by Campus Ministry, is staying connected with the Sisters of Notre Dame even though students, faculty and staff cannot visit the Sisters in person due to the pandemic.

The College’s Campus Ministry team has created a “Pen Pals with the Sisters” program through which 20 members of the College community have committed to writing letters to Sisters of Notre Dame who are isolating with their congregation in Chardon, Ohio.

Many of the students participated in a video conference kickoff event during which they shared their hopes for the program and worked on their first letters together. Some of the Sisters submitted short bios of themselves ahead of time, and at the opening expressed their eagerness to connect with current students at the institution their order founded nearly 100 years ago.

“Students were eager to receive support from the Sisters and practice their writing. Some said they had never written an actual letter before,” said Anita Yoder, assistant director of campus ministry at the College.

Some of the students have never interacted with women religious before, according to Yoder, while other members of the campus community do have relatives in religious life.

One Sister of Notre Dame, Julie Boehnlein, specifically requested her grand-niece, Katelynn Prochaska, a first-year student at the College as a pen pal.

Jason Phillips, a senior, said he is participating in the pen pals program because he wanted “to reach out to others during this troubled year and give them hope.” He also noted that writing to the Sisters “gives me the opportunity to learn more about my faith.”

The first batch of letters were sent prior to the Sisters’ celebration of their order’s Foundation Day on October 1. This year the Sisters of Notre Dame celebrate their 170th anniversary.

To honor the occasion, a short Foundation Day video has been created to highlight the order’s foundresses and ministries of the Sisters that continue today. The video is available online.

Participants are expected to write at least one more letter this semester, or more if they would like. Last year, Notre Dame students actually visited Sisters of Notre Dame in the healthcare unit in Chardon.

While most participants are students, Chris Kiec, who works in IT for the college, is also writing to a Sister.

“I have letters that my grandma wrote me that I read to make me connect with her now that she is gone and make me happy. When I got the opportunity to write a letter to someone, I was thrilled,” she said.

October 2020
Anita Yoder contributed to this article.

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or