The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word continue serving God's people in the world today because of the living power of their Founding Call. The story of the Congregation's foundation is quite simple, yet utterly profound.
Claude Marie Dubuis, a Frenchman who was then Bishop of all of Texas, needed help. Texas was suffering from the ravages of the Civil War, coupled with the tragedy of a rapidly-spreading cholera epidemic. In 1866, having made many unsuccessful appeals, Dubuis contacted his friend Mother Angelique Hiver, Superioress of the Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament in Lyons, France. His inspired words to her continue to inspire the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word today:
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering in the persons of a multitude of the sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands."
Dubuis identified the suffering persons in the streets of South Texas with the person of Jesus. He was convinced that when he met and ministered to them, he encountered the living God!
Unable to resist this impassioned plea, the Sisters in Lyons sent three young women to help their friend. These three grew to be 197 by 1891! In this short period of time, the Sisters had founded Santa Rosa Infirmary in San Antonio, Texas and St. Joseph's Infirmary in Fort Worth, Texas. They administered seven railroad hospitals scattered throughout Texas, Missouri, Iowa, and New Mexico.
A similar phenomenon occurred in the fields of education and social work. Because the Sisters saw Jesus in the curious eyes of young people, they opened eighteen schools in the United States; because they saw Jesus in the sadness of children orphaned, they established several orphan homes for boys and girls. When a request came to teach in Saltillo, Mexico, the Sisters went in 1885. Within twenty years, twelve new schools were established in Mexico.
These early years branded the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word as education and health care professionals, prepared in the finest institutions of higher education in the United States and throughout the world. These early developments have endured to the present in CHRISTUS Health, the University of the Incarnate Word, and our Incarnate Word Schools in Mexico. Their strong preparation and grounding enabled them to branch into almost every form of service imaginable when the Second Vatican Council encouraged religious congregations of men and women to acquire "adequate knowledge of the social conditions of the times they live in and of the needs of the Church."
They were ready to move into the cutting edge of opportunities opening to them.
The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word continue to discover God as they meet other people. The stories of these encounters form a living heritage. We invite you to share them and get to know us.