In the mid ‘90s, a group from the Sisters of Notre Dame left behind everything they knew and travelled over 7,000 miles to a place where they didn’t know the language or culture. Their mission? To build a school from the ground up and spread God’s goodness.
Sister Mary Margaret Droege, a Sister of Notre Dame from Covington, Kentucky, recounts the sisters’ adventurous time in Uganda with tales of exploding water tanks, “hippopotamus holes,” and the Ebola virus in her first book, Approaching Holy Ground: The Sisters of Notre Dame Uganda Mission.
Published by Cincinnati Book Publishing in May 2020 after fifteen years in the making, this book celebrates the history of St. Julie Mission in rural Buseesa, Uganda.
The book is based on verbal stories, archived letters, official reports, and first-hand accounts from the Sisters of Notre Dame who were involved with the Ugandan mission. Sister Mary Margaret, who was a part of the mission’s formation, was moved by the stories she heard and felt the world ought to know of the sisters’ adventurous experience and the mission’s impact. Approaching Holy Ground: The Sisters of Notre Dame Uganda Mission is a success story of women taking a risk to respond to a call from a community in need.
The two Sisters of Notre Dame provinces of Covington, Kentucky and Thousand Oaks, California founded St. Julie Primary Boarding School (for boys and girls) in 1998, three years after the sisters arrived in Uganda. In 2003, the Notre Dame Academy Secondary School (for girls) was established. Both schools are still active and rank among the top in the nation.
While recognizing Uganda’s need of their service, the book shows the sisters were in awe of the country. Sister Mary Annete wrote:
This is the Africa I am coming to know: The beauty of the people, the precious gift of their children, the blessing of the land, the gift of the soil and crops, and the heart of a God who is present everywhere. (March 5, 1998)
This appreciation for Ugandan culture, landscape, and language is rife throughout the book. Even as the sisters tackle numerous challenges, the joy of the Ugandan people shines through each resolution. The sisters left their hearts on the “holy ground” called Uganda, and Sister Mary Margaret’s book invites readers to do the same.
Sister Mary Margaret Droege, SND, Approaching Holy Ground: The Sisters of Notre Dame Uganda Mission.
Cincinnati Book Publishing, 2020.