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  Tuesday, March 3, 2015
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Notre Dame to Relocate
By Rick Winterson

     Anne Metrick, the Executive Director of the Notre Dame Education Center (the NDEC), announced this week that the NDEC has found temporary quarters. These will be located just over the line at St. Margaret’s School at 790 Columbia Road. The NDEC expects to make this move early in 2007 – on or around January 31, at the end of the term next year.

      Merrick stressed the temporary nature of this move (perhaps two years or so) – Notre Dame will always be a South Boston institution. In fact, Notre Dame will continue to hold some classes in South Boston, even while they are situated at St. Margaret’s.

     The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have been devoting themselves to educating the residents of Boston at 50 Broadway for almost 150 years. They took over ownership of the site five years after the Cardinal Cushing High School was closed. In an article last year (Online’s June 9, 2005 issue), South Boston Online described the need for the Order to relocate.

      The century-old buildings at 50 Broadway have become extremely difficult to maintain. Less than one-third of the original buildings are in use. Modern amenities, such as air conditioning, energy conservation, and handicapped access aren’t available, and would be very costly to install. Heating bills have risen to upwards of $50,000 per year. Clearly, the 50 Broadway location has outlived its usefulness.

     The Notre Dame mission is education – to provide community-based learning and literacy programs to low-income adults. This includes instilling values of respect and understanding. Courses are English-based; they include principles of American citizenship. NextStep (a college entry program) and job counseling are provided. In the ’05-’06 school year, 459 students came there. In addition, the waiting list exceeds 300. Those fortunate enough to study and learn at the Notre Dame Education Center call it “a place of hope”.

     Current estimates aim at occupying St. Margaret’s School for perhaps two years. An active search for permanent quarters in South Boston is still underway. At least one very promising location here is being assessed. In the meantime, the Notre Dame mission to service South Boston will continue unchanged.

     The history of the Order’s travels from Namur, Belgium, to the new nation of the United States of America, and ultimately to South Boston, is worth a separate story of its own. Believe it or not, in establishing their order in the New World, the Sisters of Notre Dame traveled farther than the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Back in the 1850s, they were invited to send teachers to Boston and South Boston from their convent in the Midwest. The rest is history, as they say.

     After a century and a half, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have become a well-loved tradition in “America’s hometown”. As Sr. Maria Delaney, Founding Director of the Notre Dame Education Center, is fond of saying, “We’ve been here in South Boston for 150 years, and we’ll be here for another 150.”

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