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History of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary


Sisters of the IHM gathered in Hollywood, California in the 1960's

Sister Thaddeus at St. Anthony High School, Long Beach, CA

Sister Mary Celestine at Pius X High School, Downey, 1962

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were founded in Spain in 1848. A few of them came to Gilroy, California in 1871. By 1900, when the original prioress died, the Sisters moved south from Gilroy to San Luis Obispo, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. There they established Immaculate Heart College, separated from Spain, and began teaching in elementary and high schools throughout California.

During the period of 1967-68, the community engaged in an examination of their way of life in the 20th century. All religious communities participated in this dialogue at the behest of Pope Paul VI who opened Vatican Council II and requested this revision of their way of life.

Cardinal James Francis McIntyre of the Los Angeles Archdiocese opposed any changes that were proposed and mandated that the Immaculate Heart Sisters obey his wishes or renounce their vows. In 1970, 90% of the Sisters chose to renounce their vows rather than capitulate. They were subsequently removed from 46 schools.

The Sisters then formed a voluntary lay community, which was inspired by Christian ideals. Many remained in the teaching field, but others went into other work or parish ministries where they still strive to do God's work through education.

The Immaculate Heart Sisters were at the forefront of the Women's Movement in the United States at that time and focused on the future rather than the past.

It is for this reason that Lucille Rader dedicates the Foundation to these great women educators. Scores of men and women who came under their tutelage will affirm this statement.

(Source: Highlights of Immaculate Heart Community History, by Helen Kelley, IHM)