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History: Ireland 1870

Within twenty years of the foundation of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Father Gailhac looked to Ireland as a place where its mission could be expanded. In 1870, ten religious, with Mother St. Thomas Hennessey as superior, left Béziers for Lisburn, a suburb of Belfast, which became the first foundation of the RSHM Institute outside of France. In Northern Ireland, Roman Catholics were a minority and poor. RSHM were invited by the parish priest and by his bishop to establish a school for girls and young women "of the poorer sort of people."

Sacred Heart of Mary Convent Community
Waterford, 1892

Within months the sisters had opened a poor school and a paying school at the convent, and were teaching religion classes on Sunday to children, young girls, and women of all ages. When they opened a boarding school for young women, they also offered night classes three times a week for the poor women employed in the factories. Most of these women had left school at about nine years of age. In 1879, the sisters were asked to begin a school in Ferrybank, Waterford. Other foundations followed in Ireland in Dublin and Belfast.

Lisburn, Belfast, Ireland

Today sisters in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are engaged in primary and secondary school and college education. They also serve in parish ministries, prison ministry, and with homeless people.
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