The first two Divine Providence sisters in Texas, Sister Superior St. Andrew and Sister Marie Alphonse Boegler (later called Sister St. Claude), arrived in the state from Alsace-Lorraine in October 1866. Bishop Claude Marie Dubuis sent the two nuns to Austin, where they opened the first Catholic school in December 1866. In 1868 they opened two more schools, one in Corpus Christi (later taken over by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word) and the other in Castroville. The sisters' first permanent headquarters was established in Castroville and remained there until the motherhouse was moved to San Antonio in 1896. By 1872 the group had increased to seventeen members and four postulants, teaching in Fredericksburg, D'Hanis, New Braunfels, Frelsburg, Panna Maria, St. Hedwig, and Danville. Under the leadership of Mother Mary Florence, schools were opened in Louisiana in 1887, and within a short time ten schools were in operation there, including five for black children. By 1907 the order had ten schools in Oklahoma, including several for Indian children. At the time of the golden jubilee of the community in 1910, the order was located in two archdioceses and six dioceses and was operating sixty-nine academies and schools with a combined enrollment of nearly 10,000 children. In 1898 the first normal school for sisters was in operation at Castroville; by 1900 it was transferred to Our Lady of the Lake Convent and Academy (see OUR LADY OF THE LAKE UNIVERSITY) in San Antonio. Summer courses were taught by state-approved professors for certification of the sisters to teach in the public schools. By 1915 most of these schools had been converted into parish schools or discontinued, thus ending, for the most part, some forty years of service to the educational needs of rural children. In the 1960s in predominantly Catholic areas, a few parish schools combined with public schools, and the sisters taught in these schools.
Our Lady of the Lake Academy continued to add college courses, eventually became a four-year institution, Our Lady of the Lake College, and opened its graduate school to male students. The Worden School of Social Service is part of the college system. Now Our Lady of the Lake University, it had a seventy-acre campus with thirty-four buildings in 1988. Since the 1950s the order had also trained women from Mexico at Our Lady of the Lake. When the Sisters of Divine Providence celebrated the centennial year of their arrival in Texas in 1966, they numbered 730 professed sisters, 32 novices, and 37 postulants; two adjunct groups to the order were the Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence (82 Catechists and 10 novices) and the Missionary Sisters of Divine Providence in Querétaro, Mexico (nine sisters). In Texas the order was represented in the Archdiocese of San Antonio and in the dioceses of Austin, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, El Paso, Galveston-Houston, and San Angelo; Alexandria and Lafayette in Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Querétaro, Mexico. In the 1990s, in addition to a college and school for social service, the sisters operated three hospitals, four clinics, and forty-eight schools. In 1994 there were 192 sisters working in Texas. The generalate of the congregation was located in Helotes, Texas.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.
Sister Mary Generosa Callahan, C.D.P., The History of the Sisters of Divine Providence, San Antonio, Texas (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1955). Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P.,
“Sisters of Divine Providence,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
March 5, 2019
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: