Mary Ward (1585 - 1645)

Foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary

THE INSTITUTE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY(LORETO)was founded by Mary Ward(1585-1645), a dynamic English Catholic lady, during the most turbulent times in England when Catholics were being persecuted, and Europe was being troubled by religious intolerance and the rights of women were unheard of. It was under these circumstances that Mary Ward, who had been called to a religious life when she was all of 15 years, took it upon herself to envision a very active order, working in society for the education and upliftment of women. The task set by our founders continues to be carried out by her spiritual daughters and Mary Ward herself remains as an ever inspiring figure to young women worldwide. On 19th December 2009, Pope Benedict XVI declared Mary Ward as Venerable and recognition was given to her as a woman of heroic virtue.
Loreto in India owes its origin to a visit by Dr Bakhaus to Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, Ireland, in 1840 to request Mother Teresa Ball to send sisters to set up a school for Catholic children in Calcutta. In response to this, Mother Teresa Ball sent 7 Loreto Sisters and 5 Postulates, all in their twenties, under the leadership of Delphine Hart to India, with the belief that they would probably never see their homeland again. These pioneers were Mother Delphine Hart, Mother Teresa Mons, Mother Martina McCann, Sisters Alexia Egan, Benigna Egan, Veronica Fox, Gabriel Doyle, Miss Isabella Hart (M.Delphine's sister), a Miss McDonough(later named as Sister Xaveria), along with two other postulants, Miss Shanley and Miss Fitzpatrick. Sailing on a ship named The Scotia, this group of pioneers left Dublin on September 1,1841 from Ireland and landed at Babughat, Kolkata on December 29,1841. They were the first congregation to come to North India.
Arrangements were made for a formal welcome and religious ceremony at the Cathedral on Portuguese Church Street. A great civic reception was held the next day, where they were welcomed by the Ladies of the Nun Committee, a large gathering of the people of Calcutta and Bishop Carew, and thereafter they were installed at the house in Middleton Row. Earlier occupants of the building included Henry Vansittart, Governor of Bengal (1760-64),Sir Elijah Impey, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Calcutta (1774-82) and from 1824, the Second Anglican Bishop of Calcutta, Bishop Heber. On January 10,1842, Loreto House School was opened in this building. Meanwhile, the construction of St. Thomas' Church, on the same premises had begun from November 11,1841. The Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta, Mgr. Carew, also constructed a residence for himself next to the church and at the doorstep of Loreto House. This building was then known as St. Thomas' House. The only original buildings on the premises now are St. Thomas' Church and a part of the building where the college was first established. The Provincial of the Loreto institute in India now resides within the walls that first housed Loreto College.
On 10th January 1842 the Sisters began the school at Loreto House with 60 pupils as well as taking classes in the orphanage at the Murgihatta Cathedral in keeping with Mary Ward's dictum to "love the Poor". Thus began this long and wonderful journey of Loreto House that stands tall and proud,as an ever evolving dynamic educational institution, that priorities the wholistic development of the girls put into its care.
The pupils of this institution are set ideals that expect them to put in selfless service for the betterment of the world and its people, and for their own character formation. They are encouraged to guide their lives and deeds, motivated by ethical and moral values. The school aims to provide the best of Indian and Western values, as well as the timeless ancient and the progressive modern. It endeavours to put into its daily living the ever inspiring maxim of its foundress Mary Ward,- "Do good and do it well".