History of Commitment
Notre Dame Housing began as the result of planning by the Notre Dame Sisters when they came to realize that fewer persons were entering religious life and the North American Motherhouse they called home would become an immense financial liability unless something was done. The Motherhouse was contiguous with Notre Dame Academy, an all-girls school from 1929 until it closed in 1974 when this all-girls school joined with an all-boys school to form the new and still-operating Roncalli Catholic High School, leaving the Academy empty.
For a period of time, the Sisters used the school's facilities to support retreats and group conference needs. Then, after careful consideration and significant planning, the Sisters tore down the 1964 wing of the academy and built new HUD Section 202 housing in 1996 and 1997.
Over the course of 11 years (and two projects rolled into one), the Sisters completed the transformation of the Motherhouse into 62 units of affordable housing with a Section 42 tax credit and Historic tax credit project for its renewal.
Notre Dame Housing is much more than affordable housing for older adults; rather, it builds community within the boundaries of the campus and interacts in the neighborhood to build community through the provision of services on site for residents, by residents going into and contributing to the larger community, and by taking care of one to the other among residents and neighbors.
The Notre Dame Sisters arrived in Nebraska in 1911 from their first mission in Fenton, Missouri which was established after their 1910 arrival from their native Bohemia. Initially they ministered in Dodge, NE and eventually arrived in Omaha to assist Fr. Edward Flanagan at this newly formed Boys Home in the center of Omaha.
Earlier Fr. Flanagan had purchased Seven Oaks Farm at 35th and State Streets for Boys Town but found the space too small for his purposes. In 1920 the Sisters purchased this Farm from him and Fr. Flanagan proceeded to purchase Overlook Farm, the present site of Boys Town.
The construction of the Motherhouse on the grounds of Seven Oaks Farm began in 1925, and by 1926, under the leadership of Sr. Qualbertina Vanek, Notre Dame Academy opened with 15 students, with the number growing to 26 by the end of the Academic year. This 3501 State Street location also became the location for the Notre Dame Sisters Motherhouse. The unique “E” shaped Italian Renaissance Revival style convent and school continued to be construction in phases from 1926 to 1965.
The Academy continued for 49 years, educating many young women from all over the United States. In 1974 it merged with Archbishop Rummel High School for young men to form Roncalli Catholic High School, which today carries on the legacy of the Notre Dame Sisters and the Christian Brothers who had staffed Rummel High.
After using the building the various spiritual retreats and community-based activities, the Notre Dame Sisters, after careful study of needs in the areas, established Notre Dame Housing to meet the needs of older adults, 55+ regardless of race, color, religion, sex, marital or civil union status, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, place of birth, ancestry, citizenship, military or veteran status or disability. Like most cities throughout the United States, Omaha has a growing populations of seniors.