Beginnings: Mary Ward
Mary Ward was an Englishwoman who was born in North Yorkshire in 1585, at a time of persecution for Catholics, into a family determined to live their Catholic faith no matter what the cost. Her greatest desire as a young woman was to be a religious, although there were no convents in England at that time, all religious communities having been suppressed by Henry VIII by 1540. Although Mary travelled to Flanders to join an existing community of cloistered sisters, she learned, little by little, that she was called to some other way which would only become clearer to her over time. She returned to England to seek clarity about what work God had for her to do, and in 1609 received inspiration in prayer that, whatever her call, it would be to the Glory of God.