Theresa Maxis Duchemin, Charlotte Schlaff, and Therese Renault accepted Father Gillet's challenge and became the first members of the new community.
Theresa Maxis was born in Baltimore in 1810. From the start, her life was paradoxical, a blend of advantage and liability which somehow combined to create a dynamic yet responsive personality and resourceful, determined leader. Born of unwed parents and of mixed racial lineage into a society that held both conditions in contempt, she nevertheless received a rearing and education far superior to most of the women of her time. She was one of the founding members of the Oblates of Providence of Baltimore. When that congregation seemed on the brink of dissolution, she left it and helped creat a new congregation in Monroe, Michigan. She became its first Superior General. In 1858 she accepted Bishop John Neumann's invitation to serve in the Diocese of Philadelphia, and in 1871 she established a separate foundation in the Diocese of Scranton. The remained of her life was spent trying to effect a reunion after a voluntary exile with the Grey Nuns in Ottawa. During the eighteen lonely and pain-filled years, Mother Theresa learned patience and hope, and communicated these in her letters which remain a substantial legacy to her daughters. Seven years prior to her death, she was received back into the Congregation she had personally established in Pennsylvania. She died at West Chester on January 14, 1892.
The Holy Spirit at work in the Church and in the person of Father Gillet, called us into being as a Congregation in 1845. Father Gillet was a Belgian Redemptorist, a missionary to Michigan. Recognizing the need for education to assist in the missionary work, he sought to establish a Catholic school in order to maintain and spread the faith. Unable to find sisters, he organized a congregation, which, today, is known as the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1847 he left Michigan and, in 1854, returned to France where he entered the Order of Cistercians in Citeaux. He died in 1892, a short time after he had been reunited by mail with the Congregation he had established.
Superior General of the I.H.M. Congregation from 1913 to 1919 and Marywood College's first President and Reassurer.
Mother Germaine secured state support for the college, which she named "Marywood", wrote its first catalog; and oversaw its opening on September 8, 1915. Two years later, she obtained Marywood's charter, giving Marywood official status as a college.
Mother M. Germaine had a varied apostolic background prior to her election in 1913. Professed in 1882, she was a teacher; then appointed school supervisor; writer of plays, poetry, pageants; and interested in educational development. During her term, she changed the name Mount St. Mary's to Marywood, adding a prophecy that ..."in a short time, the name of Marywood will be known far and wide". She labored unceasingly in the starting of the college and obtained the charter. Under direction of Bishop Hoban, she opened St. Michael's School for Boys and four other schools. She was also instrumental in helping the Maryknoll Sisters during their infancy by sending three Sisters until the new community was adopted by the Dominican Sisters.
Mother M. Cyril was the epitome of initiative and enterprise, a patient, persistent , warm, faithful, humble woman. She was elected Superior General in 1901; completed the erection of Mount St. Mary's; constructed the shrine of Our Lady of Victory on the campus grounds in thanksgiving that a proposed railroad was not constructed through the grounds. Keeping in mind St. Alphonsus' recommendation that schools be established in rural areas where people did not have spiritual opportunities, she opened schools in western Pennsylvania. A significant achievement was the help given in the formation of two new communities of sisters: the Sisters of St. Casimir and the Sisters of SS. Cyril and Methodius.
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