Humility of Mary, Sisters of the

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(HM, Official Catholic Directory 2110), or "Blue Nuns"; a pontifical institute that conducts schools, catechetical centers, and hospitals under two separate motherhouses, one at Villa Maria, Pennsylvania, and the other at Ottumwa, Iowa. The congregation was established in 1854 by John Joseph Begel, parish priest of the Diocese of Nancy. At the invitation of Bishop Amadeus Rappe of Cleveland, Ohio, the entire community immigrated to the United States in 1864, when an anticlerical French government frustrated its teaching apostolate. The foundress, Mother Magdalen Potiers, died before the voyage and the group of ten professed sisters and three orphans was under the leadership of Mother Anna Tabourat, the American foundress. After a brief stay in Louisville, Ohio, the sisters settled near New Bedford, Pennsylvania, on a large farm assigned to them by the bishop. Despite severe trials and hardships, the sisters learned the language and, within a few years, were conducting parochial schools in nearby towns. Mother Anna guided the sisters until 1883 when illness forced her resignation. Mother Patrick Ward, the first American-born general superior, was elected (1889) and served for 27 years. In 1870 four sisters were sent to the Diocese of St. Joseph, Missouri; 11 years later this group formed the nucleus for a separate Congregation of the Humility of Mary (CHM, Official Catholic Directory #2100) with its motherhouse located at Ottumwa, Iowa. In addition to their principal ministries of education, healthcare and catechetics, the sisters also operate extensive outreach programs to Native Americans, immigrant communities, the homeless and marginalized. The motherhouse is located in Villa Maria, Pennsylvania.

[m. k. flanigan/eds.]