Loretto Sisters Celebrate 400th Anniversary Mass of Thanksgiving

May 3rd, 2009

“Divine love is like a fire.”
We are called by God to a vocation of love.”
-- Mary Ward, c. 1619

The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loretto Sisters), their associates, friends and honored guests gathered at St. Paul’s Basilica in Toronto, Ontario for a special Eucharistic celebration on Sunday May 3rd, 2009. His Grace, Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, was the Presider and Homilist for a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrating the life and mission of The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loretto), a worldwide Roman Catholic congregation of apostolic women, was founded by Mary Ward in 1609. The Loretto Sisters celebrated this special occasion with IBVM Associates and the many friends, alumnae, colleagues and students who attended the mass and outdoor reception.

IBVM Provincial Reflects on 400 years of Mission and Ministry

Evanne Hunter, IBVM, Canadian Provincial Superior, gave a reflection on 400 years of IBVM mission and ministry.

Evanne Hunter, IBVM, Canadian Provincial SuperiorEvanne Hunter, IBVM, Canadian Provincial Superior“Our outrageous hope is that, if we are faithful followers of Mary Ward, with our hearts freely and firmly set on God, if we are as she was - lovers of truth and doers of justice, here in our little part of the world, God will call young women to carry Mary Ward’s gift and legacy into the future…. for another four hundred years.”
Evanne Hunter, IBVM
May 3, 2009

Loretto Sisters in Canada

In 1847 five Loretto Sisters from Ireland arrived in Toronto to begin their ministry among the Irish immigrants of Toronto.

Declan Kelly, the Irish Ambassador to Canada and Jamaica, offered special greetings and a reflection on the early history of the Loretto Sisters in Canada and their roots in Ireland.Declan Kelly, the Irish Ambassador to Canada and Jamaica, offered special greetings and a reflection on the early history of the Loretto Sisters in Canada and their roots in Ireland.These sisters arrived during the terrible days of the typhus epidemic, a crisis of frightening proportions. They arrived only to learn that their patron and benefactor Bishop Michael Power had recently succumbed to the illness himself, having personally cared for the sick and impoverished Irish immigrants who filled the fever sheds along the Toronto harbor. This small community of Loretto Sisters was the first religious community to take up residence in the city. They suffered poverty and privation and within four years, the death of three of their members. Nevertheless they set up the first Loretto House on Duke Street and began a small boarding school. From that humble beginning, communities and educational foundations were eventually established in Ontario, Saskatchewan and the United States.

In more recent times Loretto Sisters have expanded their ministry beyond education to include pastoral and retreat ministries, work with refugees, parish ministry and outreach to the poor.

We, the Loretto Sisters, express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who made our 400th Anniversary Mass such a joyous occasion.

  • His Grace, Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Celebrant and Homilist
  • Monsignor Brad Massman, Pastor of St. Paul’s Basilica
  • Altar Servers: St Paul’s Basilica
  • Declan Kelly, Irish Ambassador to Canada and Jamaica who offered official greetings.
  • Connie Price, Music Coordinator and Musicians
  • Students from Loretto Abbey and Loretto College School for providing hospitality
  • Offertory Procession: Roberto Chiotti, Maired Flynn, Marguerite How, Solomon Marye, Nadia Stanichevsky
  • Our families, IBVM associates, friends, alumnae, colleagues and students who joined us for this special 400th anniversary celebration

400th Anniversary Mass Gallery

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To view the photos of the various 400th Anniversary events, please click here - Neil Kinnear & Lesley Chung