Posted October 06, 2022
From our founders, we inherit a style of discipleship marked by compassion and a preference for the poor, and in this tradition, we engage in works which alleviate human suffering in its many forms.
HM Constitutions #75
The Sisters of the Humility of Mary began in 1854 as an association of laywomen who felt called to revitalize Christian life in northeastern France.
In 1864, Bishop Amadeus Rappe of Cleveland, Ohio invited the sisters to come to America. In June of that year, Father Begel and the entire community of nine sisters, two novices and four orphans set sail from France and eventually settled on land ten miles outside of Youngstown, Ohio, now known as Villa Maria, Pennsylvania. On their arrival, under the direction of Mother Anna Tabourat, the sisters responded to the challenges of an immigrant Church by establishing and staffing schools and hospitals in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
During the 168 years since their founding, the ministries of the sisters have arisen from their desire “to share Jesus’ mission to bring more abundant life to God’s people, especially those who are poor, by responding to the needs of the times.” This vision has led them to expand their work into many new forms of education, health care and social service. Some of these ministries have been carried out:
- through teaching and administration in all levels of education;
- in parishes as Directors of Religious Education and Pastoral Associates;
- through Humility of Mary Housing which includes supportive permanent housing programs;
- through a collaboration with Bon Secours Mercy Health which includes hospitals in Lorain, Warren and Youngstown;
- through health care providing for the special needs of children;
- in retreat ministry, spiritual direction and wellness programs;
- in advocacy for justice and peace;
- through collaborative efforts to address human trafficking;
- through the care of creation in the spirit of Laudato Si’;
- and, in the tradition of the founders in America, some sisters have worked with America’s most recent immigrants, both Latino and Haitian.
During the last 158 years from their base in the United States, the sisters have gone out and served in 24 states and the District of Columbia as well as in Bangladesh, Chile, El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, Vietnam and West Africa.
In Cleveland, The Sisters of the Humility of Mary were asked and rose to the challenge of operating Rose-Mary—a provider of quality care for individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities--from 1922 until 1994, from which point dedicated lay staff have carried on their mission.
The Sisters of the Humility of Mary and Rose-Mary pioneered modern treatment to correct physical handicaps of children with healthy minds. Rose-Mary initially served children with physical handicaps such as polio, chorea, and birth defects. Through physical therapy, disabled children re-trained weak muscles and achieved as close to normal function as possible. The home-like setting at Rose-Mary included furnishings and utensils specially designed for the young residents.
In 1943 the adjacent William Delaney house and property were acquired for Rose-Mary and used for staff sleeping quarters. A new building on the same site was completed in 1949 with Catholic Charities funds. The facility concentrated all activities under one roof and permitted care of up to 48 children.
In 1967 the sisters modified Rose-Mary’s mission to serve children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The Sisters continued to evolve their work over the years to meet the needs of all of God’s children with the most significant needs. In 1987 they opened Rose-Mary’s first adult group home. Many of the adults Rose-Mary serves today came to Rose-Mary as children with significant challenges. The Sisters humbly serve as part of an extended family throughout the children’s lives.
Rose-Mary’s operations have recently been transitioned from the past institutionalized setting into group home settings to continue to provide services with the family style loving care exemplified by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary.
Today, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary continue to fund Mary’s House through Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services. Mary’s House was developed to serve the specialized and intensive needs of single mothers who are navigating the resettlement process without a partner. This program offers intensive case management, healthcare navigation, financial literacy resources, connection to ESOL classes, assistance securing public benefits, linkage to mental health, and support/psycho-educational groups in a trauma-informed/healing-centered atmosphere.
Single mothers can also connect with legal services, job development, and specialized programming for intensive medical needs. The mothers participate in art therapy and connect with other women who have shared experiences of being a refugee, including navigating a new culture, language, ways of living, and doing it all as single parents.