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Religious Teachers Filippini


A congregation of women religious (MPF; Official Catholic Directory #3430) with papal approbation. One of the earliest teaching communities of sisters in Italy, it was founded by St. Lucy filippini and Cardinal Marc' Antonio barbarigo, Bishop of Montefiascone, a city north of Rome, Italy. In 1692 the Cardinal asked Lucy to head the schools he had organized for the education of young girls. Twelve years later he devised a set of rules to guide Lucy and her followers in the religious life. The sisters were to be dedicated to providing Christian training for the children of the common people. As the community grew, it attracted the attention of Clement XI who, in 1707, called Lucy to Rome to found schools there.

In 1910, five sisters arrived in the U.S. Their destination was St. Joachim parish, Trenton, N.J., and their mission

was to serve the needs of neglected Italian immigrants. Had it not been for Thomas Joseph Walsh, then bishop-elect of Trenton, the difficult circumstances of the early years would have constrained the sisters to return to Italy. In 1918 Mother Ninetta Ionata, the leader of the group and later superior general, appealed to him for help. In 1920 he purchased Villa Victoria, on the banks of the Delaware River in New Jersey, to serve as a motherhouse and novitiate. Ten years later, Villa Walsh, an estate on Tower Hill in Morristown, N.J., became the new motherhouse and novitiate for the U.S. province of St. Lucy, and the site of the community's high school, school of music, and college.

Over the years in the U.S., the sisters have become engaged in academic education, catechetics, daycare centers, parish ministries, retreats, pastoral ministries, social outreach and foreign mission work. There are two American provinces: St. Lucy Filippini Province (headquartered in Morristown, NJ) and Queen of Apostles Province (headquartered in Bristol, CT). The generalate is in Rome.

[m. marchione/eds.]

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