Foundresses’ Week: Celebrating the legacy of St. Julie


The Catalyst / Annette Henderson

NDB Students participate in the vase-making activity for the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

At NDB, Foundresses’ Week is an important event where students commemorate and celebrate the foundresses of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur — Saint Julie Billiart and Françoise Blin de Bourdon. These two women were peers who ultimately became good friends in the late 1700s during the French Revolution. Together they established the foundation of Notre Dame. Their mission was to create schools with the purpose of faith and academics for young women of working-class families.

The Hallmarks in Action (HIA) board worked for months to prepare many activities for this week. This year, Foundresses’ Week officially took place from February 2 through February 8. The theme this year was Creating Community at NDB.

“With planning foundresses week this year, the HIA board has taken lots of time to plan the events in a way that honors the Sisters of Notre Dame and all they have sacrificed for our education,” said HIA Board Co-President Sabrina Philip. “We also have taken the time to integrate the unique and special community that is NDB as we plan the Mass, special bonding activities, projects and more. We can’t wait to celebrate this unique tradition with the students and staffulty.”

To begin Foundresses’ Week, students were given the opportunity to stay after school to make flower vases for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Once completed, students hand-delivered the vases to the sisters and placed them in the chapel for all of them to see during Mass.

On Foundresses’ Day, there was a commemorative Mass in the Moore Pavillion, where sisters and alumni joined the NDB community. Afterwards, there was a luncheon at NDB to celebrate the foundresses’ work. The day after, on Friday, students made sunflower and Saint Julie-themed bookmarks in spiritual life classes.

Most notably, on Wednesday during collaboration, HIA hosted activities in the dining room to celebrate the foundresses, many of which included sunflowers. The sunflower is a symbol for the foundresses, who turned to God, just as the flowers follow and look toward the sun. There were temporary sunflower tattoos, gratitude-flower making and Epicurean helped to create a sunflower-themed cookie decorating station.

Students had opportunities throughout the week to answer trivia questions every day regarding the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The first student to correctly answer the questions received a Mints and Honey gift card.

Director of Mission and Ministry Amy Jobin had been working to find a sustainable and fun token to give to all the students at NDB so they can remember this week. HIA curated a Foundresses’ Week-themed sticker that everyone will receive. Teachers were given notepads with this special design.

“It’s a great chance for all of us today to learn some of the history of the sisters and understand the mission and story,” said Jobin. “We are a part of the Notre Dame community. This year’s Foundresses Week is special because of the theme: Creating Community here at NDB, part of our continued awareness and celebration of Hallmark Six. My hope is that during this week everyone will learn one new thing about Notre Dame and that each person at NDB will feel like they are an important part of our community.”

Overall, it was a celebratory week to commemorate the two successful women who are the reason why NDB is here today.