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Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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A congregation begun by five young women in Dublin, Ireland, 8 December, 1831, with the purpose of devoting themselves to the service of God in the education of children. They opened a school in North Ann Street, Dublin, on 19 March, 1832. Eager for more complete self-sacrifice, they resolved to leave their native land, and chose Philadelphia, U.S.A. for their field of labour, arriving there friendless and penniless, on 4 September, 1833. The Reverend T. J. Donoghoe, pastor of St. Michael's Church, who had been seeking suitable teachers for his parochial school, heard of these strangers, and with the permission of Archbishop Kenrick , employed them, and drew up a rule of life for their approval. As they organized themselves into a community under this rule, Father Donoghoe is rightly called the founder of this sisterhood with Mary Frances Clarke the first superior, and Margaret Mann the assistant and mistress of novices. On 1 November, 1833, they received the title, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1843 the congregation left the flourishing vineyard of the East, to do pioneer work, and accepted the urgent invitation of Bishop Loras of Dubuque, Iowa, to settle in his diocese whither he also called Father Donoghoe to be his vicar-general. The mother-house of the congregation has since that time been located in Dubuque. A decree of the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars approved the rules in 1877, and on 26 April, 1885, Leo XIII confirmed this. The work of the sisters is that of education ; they engage in no other. They had in September, 1907, one thousand members having under their direction 25,000 children.

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