Serving With Love

- The School Sisters of Notre Dame began teaching in Rochester in the 1800s. 

In the 1960s, 100 of them taught in local Catholic schools. Now there are only 10 sisters left and they are keeping their mission alive at the Notre Dame Learning Center. Volunteers tutor children and adults from around the city. Teresa Rhodes is one of them. The mother of three dropped out of high school more than 20 years ago. Now she is studying for a GED.

"I actually tried to do this many times. I always wanted it, always. It's just so important to me," she said.

The Notre Dame Learning Center is located on the third floor of the Charles Settlement House, in one of Rochester's oldest and poorest neighborhoods. No one here is turned away. The nuns plans the lessons in Reading and Math, and volunteers do the teaching. Some are college students and others are retired educators. 

"The sisters aren't going to be here forever," said Sister Evelyn Breslin.  "Will the Notre Dame Learning Center survive? Yes it will; with the good people in Rochester. Because it is not just our mission to meet the needs of the poor.  Many people in Rochester have that same mission." 

The center relies on funds from the order, but that just covers the rent. The rest comes from donations. All of it goes toward one-on-one learning. Over the years, as Catholic schools closed and vocations came to a crawl, the nuns' work seemed to be in jeopardy. The learning center is their answer. After more than a century in Rochester, the School Sisters of Notre Dame may have just saved their best for last. 

The Notre Dame Learning CEnter needs volunteer tutors. For more information or to donate, click here. 

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