Sister Kathryn Keenan, SNDdeN, wanted to be a teacher from the time she started to walk.
As a student at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, Calif., she was attracted by the warmth and caring of the Sisters who were her teachers. After graduation from U.C. Santa Barbara—where she majored in Spanish—Sister Kathryn spent a year as a bilingual aide in a poor public school in Isla Vista, teaching Hmong and Mexican-American children. After this experience, Kathryn returned to UC Santa Barbara to complete a Multiple Subjects teaching credential in bilingual education. Following her first year of teaching, Sr. Kathryn joined the community of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Sister Kathryn's dream of being a teacher was more than realized. For almost twenty years she had guided little ones in the kindergarten at Mission Dolores School in San Francisco. Her fluency in Spanish proved very useful at the school and in her work at Catholic Charities. Sr. Kathryn served on the Province Leadership Team of California. She also served as Vice Principal and then as Principal of Notre Dame Elementary School. Currently, Sr. Kathryn does translation work for the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
Sister Kathryn described what many before her have said: "I don't think I understood the Notre Dame mission at first. I had to go through my own transformation and conversion." From the very beginning, the international mission of the congregation that stressed the goodness of God with special care for poor women and children appealed to her. "My vows give me a sense of rootedness for my life," says Sister Kathryn. Coming from a large family that embraces four generations—from elders to infants—she immediately felt at home in an SNDdeN multigenerational community.
Sister Kathryn spoke of special experiences that she cherishes: "I loved preparing for my final vows in Namur, Belgium, helping in Peru, assisting with preparing Sisters in Nigeria for their final vows and joining a Notre Dame pilgrimage to El Salvador, and working on Final Vow Programs in Namur. Sister Kathryn has a degree in counseling and has worked for Catholic Charities in grief counseling. When asked what she does for relaxation there was no hesitation: "I love to bake, especially cookies and cakes." Sr. Kathryn also enjoys walking and photography amidst the beauty of nature.