Brief History of The Sisters of The Holy Family
Twenty years before the Civil War of the United
States, and before it was legal for such a Congregation to exist, the Sisters of
the Holy Family were founded in New Orleans, Louisiana by Henriette Delille, a
free woman of color. Co-foundresses of this religious community of
African-American women were Juliette Gaudin and Josephine Charles.
Destined by the mores of the time to live a life of
ease in the tradition of their female ancestors, Henriette, Juliette, and
Josephine dared to break away from that pattern of life. Instead, these women
chose to follow God's call. In following Him, they taught the slaves, cared for
the elderly, and shared what they had with the poor and the needy.
For 166 years, the Sisters of the Holy Family, in
the spirit of their foundresses and early predecessors, have continued to serve
the youth, the elderly, and the needy members of society. The Sisters have not
only served the New Orleans community, but also many people throughout cities in
Louisiana; Texas, California, in Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida,
Belize, and Panama Central America; and Benin City, Nigeria, Africa. Of course
this has changed in recent times.
During the history of the community, numerous
noteworthy events have been documents. On November 21, 1842, the community was
established. In 1843, catechism classes were conducted for adults and children.
In 1847, a group of free men and free women of color formed the Society of the
Holy Family to give the Sisters moral and financial support. On October 15,
1852, Henriette, Juliette, and Josephine pronounced first vows in St. Augustine
Church. When children were left homeless by the pestilence in 1853, the Sisters
cared for the orphans. Thus, in 1892, the St. John Berchmans' Orphanage was
The Sisters cared for the sick during the yellow
fever epidemic in New Orleans in 1897. The Sisters arrived in Stan Creek,
British Honduras on Palm Sunday in 1898.
For $10 an acre, Mother Austin Jones purchased 123
acres of land in the Gentilly area. This 1906 purchase formed the cornerstone
for the ministries at St. Mary's Academy, St. Paul the Apostle Church and
School, the House of the Holy Family, Delille Inn, Lafon Day Care Center, Lafon
Nursing Facility of the Holy Family, and the present Motherhouse. In 1988
Henriette Delille's Cause for canonization was opened.
The Sisters have spent 166 years of loving, caring,
and sharing with and for the people of God, for their own sanctification, for
spreading the word of God, and for improving the life of the people they serve.
The Sisters of the Holy Family praise and thank God
for their years of service and ask His blessings for the continuance of their
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