Congo-Kinshasa 1894

In 1893, the Jesuits asked the Sisters of Notre Dame  to work with women and children who had been freed from slavery. On June 6, 1894, seven Belgian missionaries left Antwerp for Matadi. The voyage was long and difficult.  After three weeks on a ship, they had to travel 15 days on a train and then on foot to reach Kimwenza, 340 kilometers from Matadi. The children arrived very quickly. Their education was difficult because of the atrocities they had witnessed. In 1896, five other sisters from Namur founded another mission in Ndembo. In 1900, the sisters were forced to leave Kimwenza and Ndembo; they settled in Kisantu in 1900 and in Lemfu in 1905.  Their expansion continued in two important regions:  Bas-Congo and Kwango in Bandundu. 

In 1959, the SNDs opened their own novitiate and welcomed Congolese women.  Sister Marie-Gonzague Mbala became the first Congolese novice. 

Today, in following the charism of Saint Julie, the sisters in Congo are engaged in schools and centers for the promotion of women where they teach women and young girls. They also work in health centers and with physically handicapped individuals in Kisantu. Some Congolese sisters responded to the call of Pope Paul VI who in 1956, encouraged the Christians of Africa to become their own missionaries. Thus, in 1994, in order to share the mission of Notre Dame with other sisters, some Congolese sisters left for South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cuvilly in France, Thuin in Belgium, and Worcester (MA) in the United States of America.