The School Sisters of Notre Dame had their beginnings in Germany in the early 1800s under the leadership of Caroline Gerhardinger, later known as Mother Theresa of Jesus. In 1843 Mother Theresa brought four Sisters to the United States to teach the children of the German immigrants.
In September 1865 Mother Caroline Freiss responded to the request of Catholic families in Mankato for Sisters. Three Sisters and a Candidate set out by train from Milwaukee to La Crosse and then by steamboat to St. Paul. After meeting with the Bishop, they left by horse and wagon for Mankato. After three days over dirt roads with many ruts, the Sisters arrived September 3rd in Mankato to the cheers of local Catholic parishioners. Beginning with Sts. Peter and Paul School in 1865, the Sisters also taught in schools at St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, and Holy Rosary parishes.
In 1912 a new Motherhouse was opened on Good Counsel Hill with Good Counsel Academy for girls. A new school building was erected in 1966. This closed in 1980. Today Loyola Catholic Schools are housed in the former Academy building, just down the road from the Learning Center.
The Sisters continue today meeting unmet needs, especially of children, youth, and women.