Sisters of Loretto: Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM)

The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sisters of Loretto, IBVM), whose special work is education, was founded in the early 1600s by an Englishwoman, Mary Ward. Five Loretto sisters came to the diocese of Toronto from Ireland in 1847 at the request of Bishop Michael Power to establish Catholic educational institutions for girls. Many years later, members of the congregation came west from Toronto to Saskatchewan, to the Archdiocese of Regina in 1921 and to the Diocese of Prince Albert in 1922. In Saskatchewan, the Loretto sisters established girls’ boarding schools and taught in Catholic elementary and high schools in Sedley (from 1921), Regina (1932), Weyburn (1950), Estevan (1945) and Saskatoon (1922–32; 1960–). Besides teaching in the schools, the sisters offered music lessons and organized choirs; for many years they taught summer catechism classes in the rural areas of the province. Over the years, a number of young women who were educated by the Lorettos in Saskatchewan became members of the religious congregation. Most of the Lorettos who served in Saskatchewan have returned to Toronto for retirement; the few remaining are involved in a variety of ministries, including high school and hospital chaplaincy, parish ministry, and art education.

Margaret Sanche