Immigration - Support
School Sisters of Notre Dame minister in a variety of ways with immigrants and migrants, including providing general support. On this page, we share the stories and work of Sisters Stephanie Spandl, Elizabeth Mary Foster, Francine Koehler and Anne Marie Gardiner.
Sister Stephanie Spandl, SSND, of Roseville, Minn., ministers as a social worker at MORE Multicultural Empowerment, providing services to refugees and immigrants - specifically mental health counseling, support groups and case management advocacy.
“My ministry with refugees and immigrants allows me to respond to our SSND call to walk alongside those who are poor and marginalized and to bring the resources that we have – education, social,emotional, spiritual, and financial support – to assist these newest members of our country in healing the wounds of war and beginning a new life here in this country," Sister Stephanie said. "It also offers the opportunity to help build bridges of relationship and understanding, based in our charism of unity, especially important in the face of strong anti-immigrant sentiment in many places."
The Pregnancy Center West ministers to women in crisis pregnancies and are abortion vulnerable. Sister Elizabeth Mary Foster, SSND, of Catonsville, Md., is a volunteer at the clinic and helps serve a large immigrant population of Latinos, Burmese, and West African and Armenian women. All of the services are free and provide counseling, pregnancy testing, sonograms, material assistance, parent education and more.
Sister Francine Koehler, SSND, is a Pastoral Associate with emphasis in Hispanic ministry in Branson, Mo.
“The ministry of Pastoral Associate with emphasis in Hispanic Ministry is important because as Christians serious about living the Gospel, and as SSNDs with our charism to enable each person to become all s/he can be, I am able to encourage, teach, and accompany our Catholic, Spanish-speaking immigrants with their material and spiritual needs," Sister Francine said. "I feel this ministry is an urgent response to the need in our world to promote unity in diversity.”
Salvadoran Enterprises for Women (SEW) prevents the need of immigration for employment. Sister Anne Marie Gardiner, SSND, founded SEW and is the executive director for the organization that develops local businesses for women in rural El Salvador so they do not need to immigrate to find work.