Teresa left home in 1928 at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, to learn English with the view of becoming a missionary; English was the language of instruction of the Sisters of Loreto in India.[21] She never saw her mother or her sister again.[22] Her family lived in Skopje until 1934, when they moved to Tirana.[23]

She arrived in India in 1929[24] and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, in the lower Himalayas,[25] where she learned Bengali and taught at St. Teresa’s School near her convent.[26] Teresa took her first religious vows on 24 May 1931. She chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries;[27][28] because a nun in the convent had already chosen that name, Agnes opted for its Spanish spelling (Teresa).[29]

Teresa took her solemn vows on 14 May 1937 while she was a teacher at the Loreto convent school in Entally, eastern Calcutta.[14][30][31] She served there for nearly twenty years and was appointed its headmistress in 1944.[32] Although Teresa enjoyed teaching at the school, she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta.[33] The Bengal famine of 1943 brought misery and death to the city, and the August 1946 Direct Action Day began a period of Muslim-Hindu violence.[34]

Venerable Mary WardI.B.V.M., (1585–1645), who founded the religious institute in 1609.

The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose members are commonly known as the Sisters of Loreto, is a Roman Catholic religious congregation of women dedicated to education founded in Saint-Omer by an Englishwoman, Mary Ward, in 1609. The congregation takes its name from the Marian shrine at Loreto in Italy where Ward used to pray. Ward was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI on 19 December 2009.[1] The Sisters of Loreto use the initials I.B.V.M. after their names.

Today the congregation is engaged in a wide variety of new ministries: literacy programmes, spiritual direction, counseling, managing shelters for homeless women as well as several aspects of the movement for greater justice and peace in the world.[2] They are active in every continent.[3] The Loreto Sisters operate some 150 schools worldwide, educating over 70,000 pupils.


Loreto School crest

Ward was born in Ripon in 1585. She entered a monastery of Poor Clares at Saint-Omer in the then Spanish Netherlands as a lay sisterin 1606, and the following year founded a new monastery of the Order specifically for English women at nearby Gravelines. Mary Ward was inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola (referred to as Ignatian spirituality). She had a vision for a different, new and modern mode of religious life for women.[4] She envisioned women living a life in companionship and discernment, inspired by the Gospel and engaging with the world without the constraints of the traditional cloister, nor an established ‘rule’ placing them under the governance of the local bishop. These ideas contradicted the norms established by the Council of Trent and presented great difficulty for the leadership of the Church of that period.[5]

Ward also believed that women were equal to men in intellect and should be educated accordingly. She traveled through Europe, mainly on foot, establishing schools in Belgium, Bavaria, Austria and Italy. Houses were founded in Angers, Cologne, Rome, Paris, and the Netherlands. A novitiate was established in Liège. The circumstances of the time and the widespread suspicion of Jesuits did not allow her to succeed with the foundation of a religious institute according to her vision. Indeed, although the Institute experienced significant success after its foundation in 1609, it was suppressed in 1631.[6]

It revived gradually and developed, following the general lines of the first scheme. At the express desire of Pope Urban, Mary went to Rome. It was there that she gathered around her the younger members of her religious family, under the supervision and protection of the Holy See. In 1639, with letters of introduction from Pope Urban to Queen Henrietta Maria, Mary returned to England and established herself in London. In 1642 she journeyed northward with her household and established a convent at Heworth, near York, where she died in 1645.[7]


After its suppression, the Institute survived mainly in Germany, Austria, and England, but could not acknowledge Mary Ward as its founder. It had no official status as a religious congregation and nor official title. Gradually it came to be known on the European continent as “the English Ladies”[8]. It was not until 1703 that what is termed the Second Institute received papal approval for its rule from the then pope, Clement IX, and then canonical recognition as a religious institute by Pope Pius IX.

Bar Convent[edit]

Bar Convent

In 1669 Frances Bedingfeld, superior of the mother house of the order in Munich, went to England at the request of Queen Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, to establish a house in London. With a group of the English members she set up a school for young women, first at St. Martin’s Lane, then at Hammersmith. In England, she wore a secular garb, and was known as Mrs. Long.[9]

From this community, she founded Bar Convent in York in 1677 at the invitation of Sir Thomas Gascoigne. This was the first convent to be opened in England since the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536.[10] A boarding school for Catholic girls was followed in 1699 by a free day school.[11] Suspected of harboring Catholic priests, both houses experienced frequent harassment by local magistrates.[12]


In the early 19th century, the Loreto sisters developed as a distinct community in Ireland. Under the guidance of Sister Frances Mary Teresa Ball the Irish Branch established schools. In 1847, Sister Teresa Dease with five sisters was invited by the Bishop of Toronto, Ontario, Canada to set up schools. As in Ireland, the congregation thrived in Canada establishing several schools and communities. In 1880, the first community was established in the United States at JolietIllinois. Because of the difficulties in overseas communication and the different directions of the North American versus European education systems, the Canada and United States communities suggested that a North American Generalate would best serve the needs of the times, and as a result a North American Branch was officially created in 1881.

Loreto Convent, Darjeeling India, established in 1846.

At the invitation of Bishop Michael Power of Toronto, the Loreto Sisters under Mother Teresa Ellen Dease arrived in the city in 1847 and founded their first school. Since the 1920s their motherhouse has been at Loretto Abbey (Armour Heights) and still[clarification needed] houses a girls’ secondary school: Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School. The Sisters also founded Loretto College School on Brunswick Avenue in 1915 and started a college and residence for women at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. The sisters also established many other schools across Canada, both at the elementary and secondary levels.

The Loreto Sisters arrived in Australia in 1878 in response to a request by the Bishop of Ballarat, Bishop O’Connell. The group from Ireland, led by Mother Gonzaga Barry, set up a convent in Ballarat, Victoria and their first school, Loreto College, Ballarat, was originally known as “Mary’s Mount”.

In New South Wales in 1892 a day school was established in Randwick, and in 1897 Loreto Normanhurst began as a boarding school. The Randwick day school moved to Milson’s Point in 1901 to begin what is now known as Loreto Kirribilli. The IBVM in Australia also has schools in Brisbane(Loreto College, Coorparoo), Adelaide (Loreto College, Marryatville), Melbourne (Loreto Mandeville Hall) and Perth (Loreto Nedlands Primary School).

The 19th century saw the establishment of Loreto schools and colleges in India which became some of the most highly regarded places of education for women. The same century saw sisters from Ireland establishing a mission in South Africa in 1878. The first years of the 20th century (1904) saw the establishment of a convent in Spain by the Sisters who had a convent in Gibraltar.

Mother Teresa was part of the congregation from 1928 till 1950, during which she founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.[13]


Today, Sisters of the institute are found worldwide. It had historically been divided into three main groups known as the Roman Branch, the Irish Branch and the North American Branch. This situation changed in September 2003, when the Sisters of the Irish and North American Branches voted to re-unite. From this, confirmed by papal decree, a new entity has been forged, now referred as The Loreto Branch.[8] The Roman Branch received permission from the Vatican to change its name, to reflect more closely Mary Ward’s vision of a Jesuit order for women. The Roman Branch is now Congregatio Jesu or the Congregation of Jesus.[14]

In Ireland, the Sisters run a number of day-schools for girls, and until recently ran a girls’ boarding school at RathfarnhamDublin.

The Sisters established a number of girls’ schools in England and Northern Ireland, although a number have gone coeducational. Most have joined the state sector with many run as independent schools under the trusteeship of the order. Loreto High School in ChorltonManchester is the first Loreto school in the country to be coeducational from its inception.

The South African Province has apostolates in Pretoria, Witbank and Cape Town all of which focus on marginalised women; the Sisters also have a mission in Zambia which was established in 2006.

Like the Sisters in other provinces, those of the Spanish Province, though small in number, work primarily with disadvantaged women and children.

The Sisters of the Australian Province work in Aboriginal welfare, rural communities and care for the aged as well as having outreach in Vietnam and East Timor. There are seven Loreto Colleges spread across five states, the oldest being the school in BallaratVictoria.

In North America, the Sisters have communities in CaliforniaArizonaIllinoisMichiganWisconsin and throughout Canada. Although the North American Sisters are involved in many aspects of education, they are also involved in many community outreach programs. This includes Mercy Home for Boys and Girls (Chicago), Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital (Wheaton), Pillars Community Services (Hickory Hills), the Loreto Center (Wheaton) and Wellspring Women’s Center (Sacramento).[15]

In South America the Congregation of Jesus has three private schools in Brazil (Instituto de Educação Beatíssima Virgem Maria – IEBVM, Colégio Santa Maria and Colégio Mary Ward) and three schools in Chile. The Brazilian Sisters often go on missionary travels to Piauí, one of the poorest states in Brazil.


Loretto Academy, El Paso,TX.U.S.A




Loreto Convent, Shillong


There are 18 secondary schools in Ireland; there are also nine primary schools in Ireland.

United Kingdom[edit]


Northern Ireland[edit]




South Africa[edit]

South Sudan[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

The Congregation of Jesus is one of two congregations of Religious Sisters founded during the 17th-century through the work of the Venerable Mary Ward, who was dedicated to female education. The other congregation is the Sisters of Loreto, a name they shared until recently, which is also spread widely around the world. In England their primary house is The Bar Convent in York, the oldest such community in the country. Members of the congregation add the postnominal initials of C.J. or CJ after their names.


Mary Ward, foundress

Mary Ward was a member of a Roman Catholic family during the period of persecution of Catholics in Tudor England. Originally attempting a life of contemplation in the Spanish Netherlands, she became convinced that she was called to serve in a more active way, especially in her native country. She saw education as the best way for women to further their own gifts and was joined in this vision by a small band of other English women. Under her leadership, they established a religious community in Saint-Omer in 1609 which soon opened a school to educate the daughters of English Catholic families.[1]

The community was founded in the spirit of the Society of Jesus, envisioning a life in which the Sisters would not confined to a cloister and would be free to meet the various needs of the people they served as needed. This, however, quickly met criticism and opposition from Church authorities. The Council of Trent had forbidden new religious congregations and confined religious women to enclosure. Ward’s response was, “There is no such difference between men and women… as we have seen by example of many saints who have done great things.”[2] She founded houses and schools in Liège, Cologne, Rome, Naples, Munich, Vienna, Pressburg and other places, often at the request of the local rulers and bishops, but papal approval eluded her. In 1631 Mary Ward’s Institute was suppressed by Pope Urban VIII.[3]

Summoned to Rome in 1632 Mary was forbidden to leave the city Rome or to live in community. In 1637 for reasons of health Mary was allowed to travel to Spa and then on to England. She died just outside York, during the English Civil War, on January 30, 1645.[1]

The Institute[edit]

By the end of the 17th century the institute was well established in Bavaria in Munich, Augsburg, Burghausen. It also had a foothold in England in London and York. The congregation had no formal name for many years. The Sisters had been commonly called the “English Ladies” in Europe, or the “Jesuitesses” or the “Galloping Girls” in England. By the start of the 18th they had begun to use the name Institute of Mary. They received approval as a religious institute by the Holy See in 1877. The different autonomous branches which had developed around the world commonly adopted the name of Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1900.[4]

Bar Convent[edit]

Mother Frances Bedingfeld (who would go by the alias of “Mrs. Long”, due to the continued persecution), was the leader of the community Ward had founded in London, which had been leading a discrete community life since their establishment. In 1686 she received a request by a leader of the Catholic community in York, Sir Thomas Gascoigne to provide education for the daughters of their community there. A group of Sisters went there in 1686 and opened Bar Convent, where they operated a boarding school for girls.[5]

Current status[edit]

The Congregation of Jesus is an international congregation of just under 2,000 sisters in twenty-four countries spread over four continents. The international centre is in Rome.

About kathyfoshay

I'm all alone with the real end of the world and always looking for assistance and no one's ever contacted me from the hundreds of letters I'd sent while at the big homeless shelter, 2nd and D Streets, NW, as though anyone that tries to contact me gets disappeared, my life used as a LURE-gimmick that goes to how that Armageddon prophecy in that book of Revelation has been being snuck-through, and this is sort of the bottom of the barrel of ideas for trying to find assistance, thinking I could get all my various writings on this in one place that letter-recipients could then look up if they're interested. That means I'd have to see if I can send my emails to here, how to do that. Wordpress said there is a way but it entails that spam would also get the email address. My time for now it up I guess. Working in this sitting position isn't healthy for me but I've always got to be doing something toward trying to get hold of someone to help me. It's like I'm a microcosm of the Earth or the human race and if someone could help me out of this torture then that'd be a start on trying to get the whole Earth out of this. 5/1/17, still all this, etc., same situation. (7/14/18 now....) Now it's 2019.
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