Four goes into one… Four US Provinces to Form the Province of St. Louise—562 Sisters Now One Community in Service to the Poor

This is more than a unification story.  This is more than a story about women who—for centuries—have cared for the poorest of the poor.  This is a story about the future, about service, and about addressing the most pressing needs of the poor in 2011.  To Sister Louise Gallahue, D.C., the newly-appointed Visitatrix (Provincial or Leader) of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul Province of St. Louise, these pressing needs include ministry to immigrants and combating human trafficking.

Press release

Sunday, July 31, at the Basilica in Baltimore, Md., Gallahue, along with eight new Councillors and a new Treasurer will be installed by the Superioress General, Sister Evelyne Franc, D.C., from Paris.  The Councillors are Sisters Rose Ann Aguilar, D.C., Sister Nora Gatto, D.C., Sister Janet Keim, D.C., Sister Mary Beth Kubera, D.C., Sister Jean Rhoads, D.C., Sister Joanne Vasa, D.C., Sister Mary Walz, D.C., and Sister Mary Catherine Warehime, D.C.  The new Treasurer is Sister Jane Graves, D.C.  A new Director, Reverend Tom McKenna, C.M., (a member of the Congregation of the Mission/Vincentian) will also be installed by the Superior General, Very Reverend G. Gregory Gay, C.M., from Rome.  More than 385 Daughters of Charity will travel to Baltimore to celebrate mass and witness the installation and official unification of four former US Provinces; previously, these Provinces were located in Albany, N.Y.; Emmitsburg, Md.; Evansville, Ind., and St. Louis, Mo.  In each of the four former Provincial House locations, much will stay the same.  Senior-aged Sister Residences will be maintained.  Employees will continue in their work.  The retreat center and co-op farm will continue in Evansville, IN.

The Daughters of Charity, who trace their origins back to St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, were established in Paris in 1633.  They were the first community of Sisters who were not cloistered.  Their community was unlike any other.  St. Vincent instructed them to have “as a convent, the houses of the sick; as a cell, a rented room; as a chapel, the parish church; as a cloister, the streets of the city and the halls of the hospitals; as enclosure, obedience; as grating, the fear of God; and as a veil, holy modesty.”  This was radical in the 1600s. Things are no different today.  The Sisters, through their vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and their extra vow of service to the poor, continue to follow these rules and go where they are most needed.

The new Province will be headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., in the former offices of the Marillac (St. Louis) Province.  St. Louis was selected by the planning committee of Sisters, known as the Visioning for the Mission Committee, because of its central location, easy access to all types of transportation, and reasonable cost of living.  Ten new, full-time lay employee positions were created from the merger.  What is even more significant is the reduction in the number of Daughters of Charity who will need to serve in leadership roles.  Through the merger of the four provinces, more Sisters can now serve in hands-on ministries.

The first, new, ministry for the Daughters in the Province of St. Louise will be in Greensboro, N.C., where two Daughters of Charity soon will serve at St. Mary’s Parish.  St. Mary’s Parish, ministered by the Vincentians, is young, diverse, and vibrant.  In recent years, the parish has grown with new members from the Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Vietnam, and immigrants from other nations.  Soon, two Daughters of Charity will serve the parishioners at St. Mary’s.  The Daughters of Charity are not strangers to Greensboro; they served there at St. Leo’s Hospital from 1906 to 1954; St. Pius X School from 1926 to 1998; St Mary’s Mission School/Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School from 1928 to 1972; and at St. Mary’s Center from 1973 to 1992.

     Where do the Sisters serve the needy?

The Sisters work in ministries as far west as El Paso, Texas, and as far east as Boston, Mass.  The Sisters serve in inner cities in schools such as St. Mark’s Grade School in Harlem, N.Y., as well as in rural areas including Dumas, Ark., where they serve in a small, health center.

     The Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise by the Numbers:

  • Province of St. Louis includes 562 Daughters of Charity
  • Province of St. Louise Sisters serve in 22 US States, Washington D.C., and Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Daughters of Charity minister in 190 different works in the above locations
  • Province of St. Louise Sisters serve in foreign missions on every continent except Antarctica
  • Worldwide, there are more than 19,000 Daughters of Charity

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