The Loretto Sisters of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Loretto Sisters are members of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, founded in 1609 in England by Mary Ward. One of the first orders not to be cloistered, the Sisters were involved outside of the convent in educational, spiritual and charitable works.
The Loretto Sisters’ experience in Canada started in 1847 when they arrived in Toronto from Ireland to begin teaching in Catholic schools. They came to the Niagara area in 1861. Under the guidance of Mother Teresa Dease, their North American foundress, they transformed a rundown inn called Canada House, into a convent and school.
Within a decade they were given land by Archbishop John Lynch (Toronto archdiocese) and built a new convent and school overlooking Niagara Falls. There were additions to the building in 1890 and 1925. For over 120 years the Sisters operated and staffed a girls’ school for students from Grades 1-13 from the Niagara region, New York state and several Central and South American countries.
Besides running Loretto Academy, the Loretto Sisters administered and taught at all but one of the elementary schools in Niagara Falls, plus schools in Fort Erie, Port Colborne, and Wainfleet. They would either go out from Loretto Academy daily to these schools or live in other smaller Loretto convents. The Sisters also went out from these places to teach catechism in nearby missions and smaller parishes.
By 1969, the boarding school closed at Loretto Academy; Loretto High School was the name of the newly named co-educational school begun in 1975. With an ever-increasing student population, the school closed in 1982 and the students were housed in the new Saint Paul Catholic High School (formerly Jean-Vanier Elementary School).
In 1982 the Loretto Sisters established Loretto Christian Life Centre as a place for adult and youth retreats and a variety of other programs.
Inducted: February 4, 2005