SISTERS OF CHARITY OF THE INCARNATE WORD (1866), TEXAS

The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, in its proper sense, dates from the year 1866, but in the prophetic views of the venerated Jeanne Chezard de Matel,  who founded the cloistered Order of the Incarnate Word and the Blessed Sacrament in 1633, this branch already existed.

The Incarnate Word wished, however, to give the glory of the direct establishment to the Venerable Reverend Mother Angelique of the Incarnation, who, in concert with the Reverend Abbe Galtier, restored the Monastery of Lyons, France, in 1832. To these two saintly souls, the Congregation owes its formation at the request of Right Reverend C.M. Dubuis, Bishop of Galveston, Texas, who is regarded as its founder.  The cradle of this Congregation, then, was in Lyons, France, in the Monastery of the Incarnate Word.

In 1866, Bishop Dubuis went to France in search of religious who would devote themselves to the alleviation of physical and moral misery in his vast diocese, which then comprised the entire state of Texas. His efforts in France seemed unsuccessful, all his hopes about to be frustrated, when Reverend Mother Angelique accepted the mission and became the Superior of the Congregation on which she bestowed a title at once indicative of the motives which created it and the spirit which actuates its members: namely, Charity, love of the Incarnate Word.

In response to the good Bishop’s petition, Rev. Mother Angelique, with the permission of Cardinal de Bonald, Archbishop of Lyons , immediately admitted into her monastery the subjects presented by Bishop Dubuis; these subjects were to form the nucleus of the new Congregation, which was henceforth to be known as the Congregation of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word. The Sisters embarked for Texas soon after, and arrived in Galveston the latter part of 1866; in 1867, they were joined by more Sisters from France.

The arrival of these Sisters opened for the new Congregation a new era. Galveston was not the only city of the Lone Star State to welcome the humble daughters of the Incarnate Word; on March 31, 1869, the Bishop sent a colony of the Sisters to San Antonio, that there they might establish a foundation. In 1870, the Community of San Antonio was created an independent center by its founder, Bishop Dubuis. The Congregation is devoted to the cause of education in boarding and day schools, and to the care of the orphan the sick, and the aged. Miraculous has been its progress; in these years, candidates from different countries in Europe, from the United States, and from Mexico are received yearly, but the number is quite insufficient to cope with the demands made for the Sisters’ services.

Texas being the home of the Congregation, the majority of its establishments are in that State, but it also possesses houses in other states and in the Republic of Mexico. In 1897, the Sisters purchased a beautiful tract of land comprising 283 acres at the head of the San Antonio River, on River Avenue near Alamo Heights, three and a half miles from the city of San Antonio. The Novitiate was removed here the same year, in 1900 the convent was completed and became the mother house. It is now the Generalate of the Congregation. In September 1900, the Academy of the Incarnate Word connected with the mother house admitted its first pupils. The patronage of the Academy, increasing rapidly, it soon became necessary to erect a large addition to the building. This educational Institution has been chartered by the State as a college, and is empowered to confer degrees. In September 1912, St Joseph’s College and Academy in San Angelo Texas was opened by the Sisters of this Congregation.

Elinor Tong Dehey, Religious Orders of Women in the United States (Indiana: Henry B. Hammond, 1913), 232-235.

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