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U.S. Province History

From its beginnings in 1609 in Belgium, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary has spread throughout the world. After its suppression, the Institute survived mainly in Germany, Austria, and England, but could not acknowledge Mary Ward as its founder. It was not until 1877 that the Institute received full approval.

Ball FrancisIn the early 1800’s, the Institute spread to Ireland. Lead by Frances Ball, IBVM, the sisters in Ireland sent missionaries to India, Mauritius, Gibraltar, Canada, England, Spain, and Australia. Because of the difficulties of travel and communication, the Institute in Ireland (Irish Branch) and the Institute on the European continent (Roman Branch) separated governmentally but not in spirit.

Dease TeresaIn 1847, Frances Ball sent five sisters to Canada. The superior, Teresa Dease, IBVM, established several schools and houses in Canada and, in 1880, she made the first foundation in the United States in Joliet, Illinois. The difficulties in communication across the Atlantic and the differences of educational practices Canada and the United States suggested that a North American Generalate would best serve the needs of the times. The North American Branch was created in 1881.


In the United States, the Institute is now present in Arizona, California, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Although education was it primary work, sisters now serve in a wide variety of educational, pastoral, and social ministries. They continue to follow the path envisioned by Mary Ward working for freedom, justice, and integrity in our times with particular interest in the needs of women and children and those who are marginalized.

Reunion 2003