Remembering Sister Christina (Christina Marie) Trudeau (1930-2024)

The youngest of seven children, Christina Trudeau, SNDdeN, was born in Los Angeles, California, to parents who instilled in their family a great love for God and the Church.

As a young child, Sister Christina Marie remembered accompanying her parents to clean St. Columbkille Church every Saturday, where she was given five cents to dust the pews. Her parents encouraged her to put the money into the collection on Sunday, but Christina—already exhibiting the ability to speak up for justice—convinced them that this seemed unfair! Her mother’s words, “You can talk to Jesus as you work. Just talk to him, say whatever you want,” remained with her for a lifetime, and she has always tried to do just that.

Her father passed away when Sister Christina was just starting high school. Worried about Christina suffering his loss so much, her mother arranged to send her to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur's boarding school in Watsonville, California. Sister Christina Marie thrived there, and by graduation knew that the Spirit of St. Julie was calling her to enter religious life.

Sister Christina Marie studied to become a primary school educator, and her natural love for children, creative energy, and dedication made her an exceptional first-grade teacher. She caught the attention of Sister Rosemarie Julie Gavin, the head of the Education Department at the College of Notre Dame, Belmont (now Notre Dame de Namur University), who recognized the potential in this young Sister. Sister Christina Marie was then missioned to the Notre Dame Demonstration School on the college campus.

Sister Christina Marie was drawn to the educational methods of visionary Italian educator Maria Montessori, whose approach allowed the children to engage in exploring the world around them. She then began an intensive study of the Montessori methods. Dr. Montessori was one of the first female physicians in Italy and was inspired to bring her medical findings and Catholic values to the field of education. She felt right at home with the emphasis on faith and the natural spirituality of the young, and Montessori’s commitment to poor children. A lifelong passion was ignited in her.

Sister Christina Marie has been widely recognized as a brilliant educator and an inspiration to many. She received numerous awards from professional organizations and was formative in planting seeds of Montessori education through the training programs she established in colleges and universities in Japan, Hawaii, the Philippines, and on the West Coast of the United States. In 2010 the American Montessori Society honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Through it all, her belief in the goodness of children, the sacredness of the cosmos, and her dedication to the poor never wavered.

When asked what has been most important in her life, Sister Christina Marie answered without hesitation: “My personal relationship with a loving God; my wonderful family; my call as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur to spread God’s goodness far and wide; my reverence for the young; and my belief in the importance of educating poor children.”

Sister Susan Olson, a good friend of Sister Christina Marie’s, saw her as someone who always released the potential in others: “She constantly called me to higher standards. She also gave me the chance to be a ‘Tour Guide’ for Japanese Montessori [education] students she brought to California to study with her one summer!”

by Sister Elisabeth Tiernan, SNDdeN

Sister Christina Marie went home to her good God on March 25, 2024. Her funeral will be held on May 25, 2024, at Notre Dame de Namur University's Memorial Chapel in Belmont, California, starting at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

Sister Christina's Ministries


Sister Christina trained teachers in many countries and was honored for her contributions.

St. Joseph Elementary, San Jose; St. Columbkille School, Los Angeles; Notre Dame School, Marysville; Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School, Belmont; Notre Dame Elementary, Belmont; Montessori School and Early Learning Center, Belmont (Director); Moreland Notre Dame Learning Center, Watsonville (Director).


Chaminade University, Honolulu (Teacher Educator)


Seattle University, Seattle (Teacher Educator);


Notre Dame Seishin University, Japan (Teacher Educator)
Montessori Teacher in Cebu, Philippines