On January 23rd, 2013, The Mary Ward Centre officially opened its doors to celebrate the Loretto Sister's newest Ministry and the continuing work of Mary Ward.
Since then, our partnerships and collaborations with various groups and individuals has continued to grow and expand. We are humbled by the number of people that have shared in our events and experiences, and our mission to implement the vision of The Mary Ward Centre.
The Spirit of Mary Ward
Mary Ward was born in 1585 in England, when to be a Catholic was to be an outlaw. Her family refused to abandon their faith and tried to nourish it by hiding priests and gathering other families in secret, knowing that to be caught meant imprisonment, torture or even death. To become a religious, which she believed God called her to be, Mary had to leave England and go to Europe.
Seeing the need for education for girls in a society where men dominated everything, she founded a religious order to meet that need. She found that the monastic life required of religious women at that time was a hindrance to the work she believed God wanted her to do. She asked the Vatican for approval to follow the rule of St. Ignatius, in a new form of religious life for women who would not have to stay within monastery walls, did not have to chant the divine office, did not have to wear religious habit and whose superiors would be women rather than men.
Church officials refused to grant her wish, called her a heretic, imprisoned her in Munich for months and required her communities to disperse. When she died in 1645, Mary could not be buried in a Catholic cemetery and her dream was unfulfilled.
In spite of the difficulties authorities put in their way, Mary's followers continued to work and to attract young women to join them in this new form of religious life.
As time passed, and society changed, Mary Ward's faith in God's call to her and her fidelity to the Church that persecuted her, but which she never left, was vindicated.
Three hundred years after her death, the Pope, on April 20th, 1909, declared that Mary Ward was indeed a holy woman and that her followers could claim her as their founder.
Verity, freedom, courage and joy all linked with integrity; these are the essential elements of the charism of Mary Ward, TheLoretto Sisters in Canada, united with those around the world, still find inspiration in the life and charism of this extraordinary woman more than 400 years since her death.