History & Traditions

Our Beginning

Father Theodore Ratisbonne founded the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion in 1843. He and his brother, Alphonse, were born into a well-educated Jewish family which was in the process of being assimilated in Strasbourg, France. Theodore came to Christianity through the study of Scripture and was ordained a priest in 1830. His mentor, Louise Humann, inspired him to read, love and center his life on the Word of God. At his request, she baptized him Catholic and will be forever remembered and revered in Sion as a woman of deep faith and rare intelligence, an excellent educator, well ahead of her time. Alphonse also embraced the faith and became a Catholic priest following a vision of Mary on January 20, 1842, at St. Andrea della Fratte Church in Rome. The profound influence of this vision led the Ratisbonnes to name the newly formed congregation after The Blessed Mother, Our Lady, “Notre Dame de Sion.” Both brothers saw a particular need in the world and the Church to witness to God’s faithful love of the Jewish people. By 1856, the congregation was established in Jerusalem, and by the turn of the last century, several Sion schools and orphanages throughout the world had been created as communities that welcome all faith traditions.

An International Community

The Sisters of Sion’s charism, gift, or calling from the Holy Spirit – to create communities characterized by a threefold commitment - to the Church; to the Jewish people; and to a world of peace, justice and love – has been guiding Sion since its founding. Notre Dame de Sion in Kansas City is one of seventeen Sion schools worldwide, visioned by the Ratisbonne brothers, and sustained by the charism of the Sisters. Each Sion school welcomes individuals of all faiths and cultures while encouraging them to realize their unique gifts and talents in a nurturing atmosphere of constructive concern and respect.

Sisters of Sion Move to North America

In 1892, the congregation arrived in the United States when four Sisters began educating young children in Auburn and Lewiston, Maine. By 1904, the number of Sisters had grown to sixty. From there, several Sisters went to other countries including Canada and Brazil. Twenty-six moved to Louisville, Kentucky and in 1907, the Sisters transferred to Marshall, Missouri, where they taught at Sion Academy until 1925. In 1912, Bishop Thomas Lillis invited seven Sisters of Sion to Kansas City. Two taught in the Annunciation School. The others began a French Kindergarten and gave private sewing, music and French lessons. From these humble beginnings, Notre Dame de Sion School has flourished. For decades to follow, the Sisters continued managing and growing the institution, building their first campus in Kansas City’s historic Hyde Park. In 1962, the high school moved to south Kansas City and then six years later the Sisters invited lay members to serve on the Board of Trustees. Then in 1990, with faith, prayers, and a pioneering spirit, the ownership of the school was transferred to the Board, which today provides guidance to the administration, staff, and faculty while embracing the vision, mission, and values of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion.

 

Catholic Values Define Our Educational Success

Notre Dame de Sion in Kansas City is affiliated with the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as well as the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion. The school is owned by a lay corporation and governed by a board of trustees. The campuses include a college preparatory high school for girls and a co-educational elementary and middle school for students pre-kindergarten through grade eight. The Catholic value of respect for the worth and dignity of each individual permeates the atmosphere and culture of the school and is reflected in the loving, nurturing relationships that form among the faculty, staff, volunteers, parents, students, and visiting Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion. Generations of Kansas Citians can attest to the importance of what Sion continues to provide: a unique learning environment that reflects the love God has for each person in his/her individuality and for each culture in its distinctiveness. For over a century, Notre Dame de Sion has continued to encourage students and their families to believe they can and DO make a difference in the world by “Educating Minds. Expanding Hearts. Empowering Lives.”

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