The Congregation of Notre Dame, an international Order of Sisters, was founded in 1657 in Montreal, Canada, by Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. The Congregation has ministered in the Parish of St. Jean Baptiste since 1882. The Mission Statement of the Order follows.
Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys tried to live the way Mary lived on Earth, as modeled in her visit to her cousin Elizabeth – the Visitation – and her presence in the Christian Community at Pentecost, the Sisters, Associates, Volunteers, and Friends of the Congregation of Notre Dame want to follow St. Marguerite’s example and make Mary’s Life the Pattern of their Prayer, Ministry and Community.
The visitation is such a simple event: one woman goes to visit another, however, it carries profound meaning: because a woman came who carried Christ within her, there was a change in someone else. Mary had just said yes to God’s presence within her, and so, when she visited Elizabeth, God visited Elizabeth as well, enlivening the baby in her womb.
The Christian Community gathered together to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, with Mary in the midst of the Community, as St. Marguerite imagined it, Mary was present not simply for the Pentecost event, but for all the early years in which the new Church was establishing itself.