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Congrégation de Notre-Dame in Central America: 50 Years of Missionary Presence in Guatemala

Congrégation de Notre-Dame


Montreal, September 3, 2014

Fifty years ago, on December 23, 1964, four sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame started the first mission in Guatemala, in San Francisco la Union in the department of Olintepeque. These four missionaries from the United States were:

Sister St. Laura Marie, Superior (Mary Frances MacIsaac)

Sister St. Marie Joseph (Rita Rompré)

Sister St. Celine Therese (Marie Celine Caufield)

Sister St. Louise Miriam (Louise Virginia Driscoll)

They left their country on August 22 to travel to Mexico in preparation for their new mission. From there, on December 19 they travelled to the Guatemala City where they were greeted by the Maryknoll Society before going to their pueblo.

It was in response to an invitation from His Holiness John XXIII, reiterated in a joint pastoral letter from the Canadian bishops dated January 13, 1960, that the General Council of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame had accepted to found a mission in Central America. Honduras was the first country where the sisters settled, followed by Guatemala in 1964 and Chili in 1965 (a country the sisters had to leave in 1973). A new mission was founded in El Salvador in 1988.

On December 23, 1964, two days before Christmas, the villagers, who had waited more than three hours out in the cold, welcomed the four missionaries with applause and shouting “Viva las Madres!”[1] Fireworks, streamers and a procession marked the arrival of the sisters.

The apostolate of the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame in Guatemala took on different forms. They worked in a clinic, engaged in catechesis and census-taking and taught elementary school and adult education.

The sisters of the Congregation continue their pastoral ministry and mission of hospitality in Olintepeque. Together with the sisters from Honduras and El Salvador, they form an administrative entity of the Congregation called Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, a name that bears witness to the Congregation’s deep roots in the region. In fact, though some missionary sisters “from the North” still live in Central America, most of the sisters in the area are now from one of the three countries where the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame are present.

Fifty years later, it is with great joy that we celebrate the arrival of the first sisters of the Congregation in Guatemala.


To learn more about the beginnings of the mission of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame in Central America, please go to: (Interview with Sister Francine Fournier – in French only)


Les Sœurs de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame

2330 Sherbrooke Street West

Montreal, QC   H3H 1G8

Telephone: (514) 931-5891 ext. 236


Stéphanie Manseau, Coordinator of Communication Services

Congrégation de Notre-Dame


[1] The Congregation of Notre Dame in Latin America, Cécile Duplain, CND, Heritage, No. 16, the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, Montreal, 1994, p. 15.


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