Catholic Congregations of Women

By: Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P.

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: June 18, 2020

The first religious order to enter Texas was the Ursuline Sisters, who came from New Orleans to establish the Ursuline Academy in Galveston in January 1847. Other orders followed, coming from all classes of society and trained in particular areas of teaching and nursing, to teach the Gospel as Franciscans had done in Spanish Texas. After long and arduous travels, they often found empty buildings awaiting them and had to gather furniture, equipment, and supplies for convent, school, or hospital. Like other pioneer women and men they had to endure yellow fever epidemics, hurricanes, Indian raids, and other hardships of the frontier. Schools operated by orders of nuns added quality and variety to Texas culture. The Ursuline Academy in Galveston, for example, offered courses in reading, grammar, composition, rhetoric, poetry, English literature, French literature, sacred and profane history, chronology, mythology, ancient and modern geography, the principles of natural philosophy, arithmetic, chemistry, astronomy, music, drawing, and plain and ornamental needlework. Other schools run by nuns offered geometry, algebra, ethics, logic, and, somewhat later, various commercial subjects. They attempted to combine practical and cultural fields.

In addition to the Ursulines, orders that came before 1900 and established headquarters in the state were the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament (1853), Sisters of Divine Providence (1866), Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (1866), Sisters of St. Mary of Namur (1860s), Holy Cross Sisters (1874), Sisters of Mercy (1875), Dominican Sisters (1882), and Sisters of the Holy Ghost and Mary Immaculate (1893).

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Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin. James Talmadge Moore, Through Fire and Flood: The Catholic Church in Frontier Texas, 1836–1900 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992).

  • Religion
  • Catholic
  • Organizations
  • Education
  • Women
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • East Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • Galveston

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P., “Catholic Congregations of Women,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 18, 2020

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