box known as a
was used by early
sisters. As women
they could not
Education for new Americans
educational and health-care systems
that continue to serve millions of
Americans from all walks of life.
it began in 1727 when 12 French
Catholic sisters braved pirates to cross
the Atlantic and establish the first
community of sisters in what is now
the United states, in new orleans.
Today more than 63,000 Catholic
sisters are carrying on a centuries-old
tradition of service and prayer.
increased to nearly 50,000.
Today, immigrant sisters continue to be a presence just as their
European predecessors were.
increasing numbers of sisters from
Asia, Latin America, and Africa are
coming to the U.s. to work with
people from their native countries.
More Americans came to know Catholic sisters in classrooms than in any
other setting. From the arrival of the
first sisters, millions of children have
attended schools taught by—and
in many cases founded by—
Catholic sisters. Many of these schools
were made up of immigrants, and
classes were often taught in a second
language as well as English. The
first American-born saint, Elizabeth
Ann seton, founder of the sisters of
Charity, was a mother and widow
who established the nation’s first free
Catholic school. The Catholic school
system today is the largest private
school system in the world.
Advancing women’s education
became a particular focus for many
American religious communities.
Catholic sisters founded more than
110 colleges and universities in the
U.s. Throughout the early 1900s, a
Help for immigrants
Between 1820 and 1914 some 30
million European immigrants arrived
in the United states. With them
came sisters from France, ireland,
Germany, Poland, italy, and other
countries to work in their communities, educate their children, and
care for them when they were ill. in
1830 fewer than 500 sisters lived in
the U.s. By 1900 that number had
SISTERS OF CHARITY faculty of the St. John
school, Scottdale, Pennsylvania, c. 1920
COURTESY OF THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS