Warde, Mary Frances Xavier, Mother

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Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S.; b. Mountrath, Ireland, 1810; d. Manchester, NH, Sept. 17, 1884. As the daughter of John and Jane (Maher) Warde, Frances Teresa was a Dublin socialite until she met Catherine mcauley and began work at her Baggot Street center for children and needy women. When Mother McAuley founded the sisters of mercy in 1831, Frances was her first postulant and was indispensable in consolidating the new community. In 1837 Sister Frances Xavier was sent to Carlow, Ireland, to establish a Mercy foundation. While there she also founded houses at Naas, Wexford, and Westport. In 1843 she responded to Bp. Michael O'Connor's call by leading six young Carlow sisters to Pittsburgh, PA. They were the first Sisters of Mercy in the U.S. Although typhus and tuberculosis decimated the community at first, it soon was able to establish parish schools, two academies, a House of Mercy for the protection and training of young women, an orphanage, and the first hospital in western Pennsylvania. During her six years as superior, Mother Warde founded convents in Chicago, IL (1846), and Loretto, PA (1848). In 1850 she was appointed superior of the mission to Providence, RI. Despite threats stemming from the KnowNothing Movement, the sisters prospered there and Mother Warde led new foundations to Hartford and New Haven, CT (1852), and Rochester and Buffalo, NY (1857). Release from the Providence superiorship in 1858 allowed her to go to Manchester, NH, where she was superior for 26 years. There she promoted night schools for young mill hands and dispatched foundations to seven states.

Bibliography: m. t. a. carroll, Leaves from the Annals of the Sisters of Mercy, 4 v. (New York 188195). sisters of mercy, Manchester, Reverend Mother Mary Xavier Warde (Boston 1902).

[m. t. a. carroll]