Holy Family, Congregation of Sisters of the

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(SSF, Official Catholic Directory #1950), an African-American congregation of sisters who work among the poor and underprivileged. The congregation was founded at New Orleans, Louisiana, Nov. 21, 1842, by Henriette De Lisle and Juliette Gaudin, two freeborn black women, under the direction of Étienne Rousselon, vicar-general of the diocese, and with the assistance of Marie Jeanne Aliquot, a French immigrant who remained an auxiliary of the society until her death in 1863. A papal institute, its members take simple vows, engage in works of the apostolate, and follow the Rule of St. Augustine.

Prompted by the wretched condition of old, abandoned slaves and semiorphaned young children, the sisters began their work by caring for the abandoned and by teaching catechism to prepare children for the reception of the Sacraments. The needs were so great, however, that permanent institutions had to be provided. Within the first year of the congregation's existence, the sisters opened a home for the aged and a school, St. Mary's. Other institutions followed: in 1867, St. John Berchman's orphanage for girls; in 1882, St. Mary's boarding academy for girls, a secondary school; and in 1893, Lafon Home for orphan boys. Each of these was a first foundation for Black Catholics in the South. In subsequent years the scope of the sisters' work grew and now includes nursing, teaching, social work, vestment making, and the supplying of altar breads. The apostolic work of the society embraces the poor wherever they are found, but particularly in southern United States and in Central America. The sisters engage in a diversity of ministries, including education, daycare centers, parish administration, pastoral services, nursing, and care for the sick, aged and disabled. The motherhouse is in New Orleans, Louisiana.

[m. b. adams/eds.]

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Holy Family, Congregation of Sisters of the

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