Order a 175th Jubilee Calendar






Timeline of History 1833-2007
September 7, 1833 - Mary Frances Clarke, Margaret Mann, Eliza Kelly and Catherine Byrne arrive in Philadelphia from Dublin, Ireland to begin a school for girls.

November 1, 1833 - Under the direction of Father T.J. Donaghoe the four women make an Act of Consecration creating the foundation of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

June 23, 1843 - Five BVMs arrive in Dubuque, Iowa, to begin St. Mary's Female Academy.

June 1, 1845 - Father T.J. Donaghoe purchased land ten miles south of Dubuque, which became the first motherhouse and girls' boarding academy, St. Joseph 's on the Prairie.

April 29, 1849 - The motherhouse burns to the ground.

Summer 1852 - Sisters and students move into the rebuilt motherhouse and academy.

Summer 1855 - Sisters begin opening parish schools and boarding academies in towns along the Mississippi River and along the westward railroad tracks.

Summer 1859 - The girls' academy moves from St. Joseph 's on the Prairie to 14th Street in Dubuque.

October 8, 1866 - Catherine Byrne is the first founder to die.

August 6, 1867 - Sister Mary Agatha Hurley and seven other sisters arrive in Chicago to teach in the Holy Family Parochial School system.

January 5, 1869 - Father T.J. Donaghoe dies.

1869 - Mary Frances Clarke incorporates the Congregation as an Iowa non-profit corporation.

December 5, 1873 - Margaret Mann dies.

January 5, 1881 - Clarke College opens.

May 11, 1881 - Eliza Kelly dies.

April 25, 1885 - Final Papal approval of Rules.

July 26, 1885 - Mary F. Clarke appointed Mother Superior for life.

December 4, 1887 - Mary Frances Clarke dies.

January 4, 1888 - Gertrude Reagan elected Mother Superior.

January 9, 1888 - BVMs open first school in California, St. Brigid's, San Francisco.

March 10, 1890 - Rose O'Toole, the last founder, dies.

September 8, 1889 - Mt Carmel property, Dubuque, purchased for $15,000.

December 31, 1892 - Congregation totals 800 members.

November 11, 1893 - Sisters move into the new motherhouse, St. Joseph 's Convent.

February 2, 1894 - Cecilia Dougherty elected Mother Superior.

July 1, 1894 - First summer school held at Mt. Carmel.

January 24, 1900 - Gertrude Reagan re-elected as Mother Superior.

December 12, 1901 - Motherhouse chapel completed and dedicated.

January 20, 1906 - Cecilia Dougherty re-elected Mother Superior.

April 18, 1906 - BVMs escape to the Praesidio during the San Francisco earthquake.

August 1, 1907 - Groundbreaking is held for an infirmary at Mt. Carmel.

September 9, 1907 - Apostolic Delegate required all novices to complete a canonical year at Mt.Carmel.

November 10, 1908 - Central heating system installed at Mt.Carmel.

May 25, 1910 - All the bodies moved from St. Joseph 's on the Prairie Cemetery to the Mt.Carmel Cemetery.

June 29, 1911 - Six BVMs begin full-time study at Catholic University.

1912 - The Congregation published its first history, In the Early Days, written by Lambertina Doran.

March 21, 1912 - Ascension Lilly elected Mother General.

July 7, 1914 - Rome granted permission for Perpetual Vows.

July 16, 1915 - First General Chapter elected Cecilia Dougherty Mother General.

October 16, 1918 - Letter from Cecilia Dougherty requesting prayers for those suffering from the flu epidemic.

November 15, 1919 - Isabella Kane elected Mother General.

October, 1920 - Sisters register to vote.

December 14, 1928 - Cardinal Mundelein asks Congregation to build a college for women in Chicago.

October 21, 1929 - Council voted to continue with $2,000,000 construction of Mundelein College during the Great Depression.

December 6, 1931 - Gervase Tuffy elected Mother General.

November 1, 1933 - Celebration of BVM Centennial is spiritual because of Great Depression.

March 7, 1935 - Gervase Tuffy informs superiors that Congregation forced to borrow money because sisters' salaries are not being paid.

July 7, 1937 - Gervase Tuffy asks for volunteers to open a school for African-American children in Memphis, Tennessee.

Summer, 1937 - Sisters, after professed five years, complete the Tertian program preceding final vows.

December 7, 1941 - Bombing of Pearl Harbor canceled Gervase Tuffy's plans to open a mission in China.

December 8, 1943 - Josita Baschnagel is elected Superior General.

November 10, 1945 - Josita Baschnagel asks for volunteers to open two schools in Kauai, Hawaii.

1948 - BVM Board of Education plans for higher education of all sisters.

September 16, 1952 - Pope Pius XII's requested Mothers General to update sisters' habits.

1950 - Beginning of process to release sisters from teaching to pursue degrees.

1951 - Josita Baschnagel states that membership in the Congregation is not limited to Caucasians.

August 5, 1955 - Fire destroys the old wing of the Infirmary.

1955 - Consolatrice (Helen) Wright elected as Superior General.

1956 - Marian Hall is dedicated as the new addition to the Infirmary.

1957 - Newly professed sisters begin the Scholasticate program which will permits them to obtain their bachelor's degrees before beginning teaching.

1957 - The first annual Major Institute for local Superiors is held.

1957 - The BVM Vista which later merged into Salt magazine is published.

1958 - The farm operation at Mt. Carmel ends and the barn is renovated into a recreation center for the novices.

December 1, 1958 - Fire at Our Lady of Angels School, Chicago, kills 90 children and three BVM teachers.

1959 - Sisters begin wearing a modified habit.

1959 - The Scholasticate building (Wright Hall) across the street from Mundelein College is dedicated.

1959 - The Spiders, a lodge and lakefront property near Hayward, Wis., is donated to the Congregation by Esther Myers Stryker.

1959 - Consolatrice Wright is elected Chair of the Conference of Major Superiors of Women.

1961- Sisters sent to work in South America in response to plea from Pope John XXIII.

1962 - Recitation of a shorten Divine Office replaces the Community Prayers.

1964 - The Generalate Building ( BVM Center ) is dedicated.

1964 - Twenty-eight junior novices join postulants at Guadalupe College, Los Gatos, California, to begin a new novitiate.

1965 - Two BVMs participate in a civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, with Martin Luther King, Jr.

1965 - Institute on Problems that Unite Us replaces Major Institute of Superiors to address how to meet the needs of the Church.

1966 - Congregation begins a sixteen-month Self-Study in preparation for the special chapter mandated by Vatican II to renew religious life.

1967 - BVMs sent to staff Centro del Muchacho Trabajador in Quito, Ecuador

1967 - Permission is granted for experimentation with updated dress.

December 22, 1967 - Roberta Kuhn is elected first president of the Congregation.

1968 - Tenth General Chapter pledges BVMs to programs in the areas of poverty, race and peace.

1968 -Evaluation of educational system results in the closing of some schools.

1969 - Kinetics of Renewal produced by the Tenth General Chapter becomes the experimental Rule for BVMs.

1969 - Congregation affiliates with Project Equality.

1969 - Robert Kuhn and Adele Henneberry attend the International Union of Superiors General in Rome and have an audience with Pope Paul VI.

1970 - The second annual BVM Senate members approve Totally Open Personnel Application for all sisters.

1970 - Roberta Kuhn announces a year of financial austerity for the Congregation.

1971 - A study of the meaning of canonical status for religious women is begun.

1971 - "Dawnings" a weekend prayer experience encourages BVMs to reflect on their lives as Christians/religious.

1972 - Joan Keleher Doyle is elected the Congregation's second president.

1972 - The annual Senate members approve an Affiliate (Associate) program.

1972 - Jane Coogan begins writing the history of the BVMs.

1972 - A trust fund is established for retired BVMs.

1973 - BVMs enter Social Security program.

1973 - Salt magazine succeeds BVM Vista.

1974 - Eighth Day Center founded by BVMs collaborating with other Congregations.

1974 - Constitutions Committee formed to draft BVM Rule following Vatican II directives.

July 17, 1974 - Joan Doyle delivers the opening prayer of the U.S. Senate.

1975 - Commitment from BVM budget to support Hunger Fund and Local Needs Fund.

1975 - Ministry Grant Fund established for BVMs in ministries that cannot afford financial support.

1976 - Congregation joins National Farm Workers with a representative on the Board of Directors.

1977 - Joan Doyle elected president of Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

1978 - Joan Doyle is member of U.S. delegation at installation ceremonies for John Paul I.

1980 - Mary Frances Shafer elected president.

1980 - BVM Carolyn Farrell becomes first woman mayor of Dubuque.

1981 - HESED (God's fidelity and steadfast love) symbol accepted as BVM identification.

1982 - BVMs gather in New York City for historic peace march.

1982 - Dedication of Roberta Kuhn Center for senior citizens of Dubuque.

1983 - Homecoming at Mt. Carmel for 1200 BVMs and 300 friends celebrating 150th anniversary of Congregation's founding.

1984 - Helen Maher Garvey is elected president.

May 1984 - Fire destroys administration buildings at Clarke College.

1984 - The Old Motherhouse on the prairie is honored by the Dubuque Historical Society for its restoration.

1985 - The Long Range Planning Committee is formed to identify future Congregational directions.

1985 - BVMs join the Sanctuary Movement to help refugees from El Salvador.

1985 - Mt. Carmel grounds are formally designated a nuclear-free zone.

1985 - BVMs participate in anti-war demonstrations in Washington, D.C. encircling the Pentagon with 25,000 peace ribbons.

1986 - First meeting of the Stewardship Committee to study responsible investments of Congregational funds.

1987 - As elected president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Helen Maher Garvey greets Pope John Paul II during meeting in San Francisco.

1987 - Kevin Gallagher is named first woman chancellor of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

1987 - My Dear Sister, a compilation of the writing of Mary Frances Clarke, published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her death.

1987 - The Congregation approved making Alternative Investments as a way to meet economic justice goals.

1988 - The first meeting of the BVM Heritage Society is held.

1989 - The BVM Women's Office is established.

February 2, 1989 - The revised Constitutions receive formal approbation from the Congregation for Consecrated Life.

1989 - Earthquake seriously damaged Guadalupe College, Los Gatos, Calif.

1989 - Communications Committee initiates use of electronic mail.

1989 - Congregation purchases leisure house in Salem, Wis.

1989 - BVMs participate in first demonstration at Fort Benning, Ga. to close the School of Americas

1991 - A year-long celebration begins for the Motherhouse Centennial.

1991 - Mundelein College is merged with Loyola University.

1991 - Helen Maher Garvey calls meeting of civic leaders to establish low-cost housing in Dubuque. Mercy Housing from Denver provides the housing.

1992 - Dolores Marie McHugh is elected president.

1992 - The role for a full-time coordinator of the Affiliate program is created

1993 - The Congregation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the beginning of parochial education in Iowa.

1993 -"The Gifts and the Call," a three-year program of Mission and Ministry Reflection weekends is launched.

1993 - BVM Core Values of freedom, charity, education and justice are determined and promulgated.

1994 - First formal commitment ritual for new Affiliates is held at Mt. Carmel and the program is named the Associate Relationship.

1994 - The Sponsorship Committee is formed to allocate funds to ministries sponsored by the Congregation.

1995 - The 200th anniversary of the birth of Rev.T.J. Donaghoe is celebrated.

1995 - Three BVMs attend the UN Non-Governmental Organizations Forum on Women in Beijing, China.

1996 - Twenty-seven BVMs move into the apartments built in the former alfalfa field at Mt. Carmel.

1997 - The Community Board formulates guidelines for situations in which allegations of sexual misconduct have been made.

1997 - Construction of a new nursing facility at Mt. Carmel ( Caritas Center ) is approved.

1998 - Guadalupe College is sold to a real estate developer.

1998 - The Community Board sends a statement to the leaders in the US government outlining the negative ramifications of military action against Iraq.

1999 - A members only web-site is created for the Congregation's communications.

1999 - Caritas Center and the renovated Philomena Hall are opened at Mt. Carmel.

1999 - The BVM Heritage Society buries a time capsule under cement during renovation of the Human Resource Office on the ground floor of the motherhouse.

2000 - Joellen McCarthy is elected president.

2000 - An initial membership process is approved for women in Ecuador.

2000 - BVMs join with five other Dubuque religious congregations to establish Maria House for needy women and children.

2000 - A two-year program of weekend reflections, "Ever Affectionately," on the life and spirituality of Mary Frances Clarke begin in preparation for the 200th anniversary of her birth.

2002 - Vice-president Mary Ann Zollmann is elected president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

2002 - Long-range planning begins on the future uses of the Mt. Carmel grounds and buildings.

2002 - The Earth Charter is endorsed which commits the Congregation to a responsible use of the earth's resources.

2003 - The blessing of the Mary Frances Clarke icon begins the year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of her birth.

2003 - The Congregation publishes Your Affectionate, a commentary on the writings of Mary Frances Clarke by Kathryn Lawlor.

2004 - Two women from Ecuador and one from Ghana begin their novitiate at Mt. Carmel.

2004 - The Congregation publishes Creating Community a history of Mary Frances Clarke and her companion by Ann Harrington.

2005 - The Guadalupe College cross is installed on the Mt. Carmel grounds.

2006 - Sisters from the motherhouse move to temporary locations while the west wing of the motherhouse is deconstructed and other areas are renovated.

2007 - Motherhouse Sisters return to renovated motherhouse.

2007 - On Nov. 1, BVM Congregation begins 175th Jubilee year.


Copyright © Sisters of Charity, BVM | 1100 Carmel Drive | Dubuque, IA 52003