Mary Ward (1585 - 1645)

Foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary Ward

Mary Ward(1585 - 1645) was the foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a religious order, which has a worldwide presence engaging mainly in the education of girls. The 'Loreto' nuns belong to the Irish branch of the Institute, there being two other branches - commonly called the 'Roman Branch' and the 'American Branch'. The latter also uses the name Loreto as it was originally founded in Ireland.

Mary Ward lived in England during a time of great persecution and hardship for those who remained true to the Catholic faith. As a young girl Mary wished to devote herself to God as a nun, but all the convents in England had been closed down. Therefore, she sailed to Europe and became a novice in a Poor Clare Convent where her life's work would be to pray on behalf of those in need of God's special blessings. However, in time, God revealed to her that her life was to be spent not just in prayers but in active service as well. Thereupon, she gathered a group of likeminded charitable and spiritual women, wives and mothers, to establish the IBVM.

In 1821, an Irish lady, Mother Teresa Ball established the first House of the Institute in Ireland and called it 'Loreto House'. It was from here in 1841, that a group of nuns led by Mother Delphine Hart brought the Institute to India and founded Loreto House, Kolkata.

Let us, Mary Ward's spiritual children, be inspired by her life and strive for the ideals she placed before us through her deeds and actions. These are the everlasting ideals of goodness, sincerity, courage, joy in service and love for the poor.