Sisters of the Holy Family
Sisters of the Holy Family
Sisters of the Holy Family, one of the earliest religious orders of black women in America, was founded in 1842 by Henriette Delille in New Orleans, Louisiana. Delille was an educated free woman of African descent who had worked with Sister Ste. Marthe Fontier and Marie Jeanne Aliquot, two Catholic women from France who went to New Orleans in the 1820s to serve the black community. Their efforts to form an integrated religious community were unsuccessful because of state segregation laws. In the late 1820s Delille and Juliette Gaudin, a Cuban-born woman of African descent, continued their service to the black community by teaching religion to slaves. Delille and Gaudin tried to form a community of black nuns but confronted entrenched racism among Catholics and widespread discrimination. In the late 1820s the Ursuline Sisters refused to allow them to become a black branch. When they tried to found an independent order, they faced institutional barriers for recognition under civil law and had to challenge prevalent notions about the inability of black women to become nuns. In 1842, with the support of Abbé Rousselon, the pastor of St. Augustine parish, the diocese finally allowed them to begin a new order in St. Augustine's Church. Only in 1872 did they gain the right to wear the habit publicly, and not until 1949 were they officially recognized by the Vatican as an independent religious congregation.
Although the Holy Family Sisters was a small order—there were only six members in 1960—they provided many important services for the African-American community. They encouraged slave couples to have their unions blessed in the church and discouraged concubinage between white men and women of color in Louisiana. They nursed the ill during a yellow fever epidemic in 1853. After the Civil War and Reconstruction they supervised an asylum for African-American girls and organized a home for orphaned African-American boys in 1896. In 1920 the boys' home was converted into a home for the aged. Their most important work, however, was in the field of education. They opened schools in Texas and Belize in addition to six schools in New Orleans. The schools served both the middle class and the poor. By 1970 the sisters were also offering day care services. The Sisters of the Holy Family continue to provide crucial social services and religious and academic training for the African-American community into the early 2000s.
See also Catholicism in the Americas
Detiege, Sister Audrey Marie. Henriette Delille: Free Woman of Color. New Orleans, La.: Sisters of the Holy Family, 1976.
Deggs, Mary Bernard. No Cross, No Crown: Black Nuns in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
Hart, Sister Mary Francis. Violets in the King's Garden: A History of the Sisters of the Holy Family of New Orleans. New Orleans, La., 1976.
premilla nadasen (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005
"Sisters of the Holy Family." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 15, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sisters-holy-family
"Sisters of the Holy Family." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Retrieved November 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sisters-holy-family
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.