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The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

In 1854, Bishop John Neumann invited the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to open a school for girls in Philadelphia, and on October 15, 1856, Sister Superior Louise opened “The Academy.” The first school opened in the Parish of the Assumption on Spring Garden St. and existed in several locations throughout the Greater Philadelphia area over the years to accommodate its growth. Finally, the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur ultimately landed at its current Villanova campus in the 1940s, with Sister Superior Julie.

After officially purchasing the Mansion and surrounding property in 2006, the Academy became an independent educational institution affiliated with the Sisters of Notre Dame. Since the Academy’s establishment, learning buildings and athletic fields have been added to the campus to address the needs and burgeoning passions of the Notre Dame community. Still, the Mansion maintains its legacy of being an anchor for the school.

Today, the Academy continues to teach young women “what they need to know for life” while preparing them to be the leaders of tomorrow. 

Hallmarks of the Sisters of Notre Dame

The Hallmarks describe the essential characteristics, values, and activities of a Notre Dame learning community. These Hallmarks emerged in response to the question from both the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and their co-workers: “What makes our school a Notre Dame school?"

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, in collaboration with the learning communities, began a process to explore this question. The process gave birth to these “living statements," statements that will continue to develop, are relevant to the times, and which inspire faithfulness to the spirituality and mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for generations to come.

Hallmark 1: We proclaim by our lives even more than by our words that God is good.
Hallmark 2: We honor the dignity and sacredness of each person.
Hallmark 3: We educate for and act on behalf of justice and peace in the world.
Hallmark 4: We commit ourselves to community service.
Hallmark 5: We embrace the gift of diversity.
Hallmark 6: We create community among those with whom we work and with those we serve.
Hallmark 7: We develop holistic learning communities that educate for life.

These Notre Dame Hallmarks are used through a reflection-action-reflection process, whereby each learning community, on a regular basis, metaphorically takes a look in the mirror and, based on what it sees, makes choices for its continued development.

Thus, the Hallmarks give value-based direction for decisions and activities, so that the learning community continues to express the spirituality and mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. 

2023 Mission Week Bench Dedication to the Sisters of Notre Dame

Sister Maria Volunteering with Students at St. Francis Inn

Custom Class: 2023_hr-logo

Since the Academy's establishment in 1856, our world has changed dramatically but our commitment to teaching young women "what they need to know for life" has remained the same. Because of this, Notre Dame acts as a leader in innovation and college-readiness by preparing students for the real world through teaching relevant topics like STEM and global competency while promoting ideals such as respect for self and others, eager curiosity and independence.

With a curriculum that emphasizes depth as well as breadth, a world of possibilities opens up for our students. At Notre Dame, they explore new cultures and languages, investigate the sciences, delve into history, express their creativity through fine and performing arts, code, and invent; all while deepening their understanding of the Catholic Church's faith tradition and how it applies to their lives.

The Academy of Notre Dame strives to create an atmosphere of openness, warmth, and responsible freedom, grounded in the Hallmarks of the Sisters of Notre Dame and the Honor Code, so that all members may be able to internalize and implement those Christian values so important to personal and social growth