Our Story

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1869-1899 1900-1940 1941-1950 1951-1965 1966-1979 1980-1990 1991-today
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1869 - 1899

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Three young French women respond in 1866 to the call of Claude Dubuis, Bishop of Galveston, to come to Texas to care for the sick and the orphans. After a very short period of preparation in the cloistered monastery of the Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament in Lyons, they leave for Galveston to open a hospital and found a new apostolic institute, the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Additional groups of Sisters follow. In 1869, Bishop Dubuis chooses three from the Galveston community, Sister St. Madeleine Chollet, Sister St. Pierre Cinquin, and Sister Agnes Buisson to begin a new foundation in San Antonio and open the first hospital in the area. He names Mother St. Madeleine superior of the new community. Three years later, he appoints Mother St. Pierre Cinquin as her successor, and she remains in office until her death almost twenty years later.

October 21
Having initially been given hospitality by the Ursuline Sisters in San Antonio, the Sisters move into their first house, part of the Santa Rosa Infirmary.

December 3
The first Mass is celebrated at Santa Rosa Infirmary.

Three women from Texas, each from a different nationality, enter the Novitiate and the Congregation begins to grow.

St. Joseph’s Orphanage is established in San Antonio, Texas. The Sisters’ involvement in the ministry of education begins with the needs of the orphans.

Requests for Sisters to operate schools begin to multiply as parishes respond to the directives of the Catholic Bishops with regard to education. Sisters also respond to requests to staff railroad hospitals. Teaching and health care work expand so rapidly that the Congregation actively seeks additional vocations in France, Germany and Ireland.

July 15

The Secretary of State of the State of Texas signs the Charter for the Congregation’s civil authorization to operate hospitals and schools under the laws of the state of Texas.

Incarnate Word School is established in San Antonio, Texas. It becomes the foundation for the College and Academy of the Incarnate Word (now known as the University of the Incarnate Word).

January 7

The first Sisters arrive in Mexico and begin teaching at Colegio La Purisima, a school for wealthy girls, in Saltillo, Mexico.  The practice of always opening an adjoining free school for poor children is established.


The Congregation mourns the deaths of its founder, Bishop Dubuis, and one of its co-foundresses, Rev. Mother St. Pierre. ▪ Membership continues to grow. Additional living space is needed for Sisters as well as the orphans and poor elderly men and women in their care. ▪ The 25th anniversary of the Congregation is celebrated.


St. John’s Orphanage is opened in San Antonio. The top two floors function as a novitiate. ▪ In Mexico City, a home is opened for poor elderly persons.


St. Francis Home is built to accommodate our aging and infirm members, and to provide for the Sisters’ growing ministry to elderly men and women in San Antonio.

June 4
The Sisters purchase the Brackenridge Estate, a property at the headwaters of the San Antonio River on which they plan to build their Motherhouse. The Novitiate moves from Santa Rosa, and the Brackenridge Villa serves as a convent for three years.

October 15
The cornerstone of the Motherhouse is blessed by Very Rev. J.B. Audet, Vicar General of the Diocese of San Antonio, Texas.