Revisiting the historical accounts and distilled from the experience of present day ministries, the spirit behind the mission of the Coesfeld Sisters of Notre Dame may be condensed to “educating for justice” and “empowering the powerless.”
The essential elements of the mission of the Coesfeld Sisters of Notre Dame would have come from the Overberg Mission whence our foundress Hilligonda Wolbring and co-foundress Elizabeth Kuling absorbed the spirit and tenacity to begin their mission. To them and to us the Mission is very simple and easy to understand. It means that through our educational activities we must enable persons to employ their faculties of mind , intellect , judgment , wits and brains; to become sensible , responsible and persons of social conscience to the extent of involving themselves in relieving the distress of their neighbours. The student graduating from a Notre Dame Institution must possess strong moral sense and genuine social conscience, perceiving everything necessary to function wisely and competently as an adult and to be a positive influence in one’s neighborhood. They must be God fearing, open and responsive to God’s provident plans.
The primary intent of her mission was education, no doubt. But she wanted to do more… A teacher in St.Lambert’s School, Coesfeld, Hilligonde Wolbring at the age of 21 took home with her a most neglected little girl in her class, washed her, clothed her and fed her… wanting to do the more… When Elizabeth Kuhling, a teacher- colleague joined her and the two sought practical ways to realize their dreams, and when Fr. Theodor Elting , their spiritual guide took them on the wings of loving trust to the One who awaited them in the Orphanages and Academies, the Mission of the Coesfeld Sisters of Notre Dame was defined.
A century and a half of metamorphosis in the congregation through traditions, times and cultures has gone by. Yet inherent in every Coesfeld Sister of Notre Dame is the tiny spark of desire to do the more… to do something about the problems she sees around her…. Could it be the characterizing missionary zeal the Cosefeld Sisters of Notre Dame, inherited from their foundresses?…. Could it be the reason for the ever expanding search for newer unconventional ministries, newer unexplored missions? That brings us to the second aspect of our mission- “Empowering the powerless.”