Texas Day by Day
On this day in Texas history…
Founder of Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence dies
December 2nd, 1975
On this day in 1975, Sister Mary Benitia, foundress of the Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence, died. Sister Benitia was born Elizabeth Vermeersch in Belgium in 1880. Her family moved to Texas while she was a child, and after the sudden deaths of her parents in 1893 she was placed in an orphanage conducted by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. In 1898 she was received into the congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence of San Antonio and took the name Mary Benitia. In 1915 she was made principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Houston. In 1930 she organized a group of young women whom she called Catechists of Divine Providence. In 1934 Bishop Christopher E. Byrne approved specific rules for the catechists. When Sister Benitia's assignment in Houston came to an end in late 1938 she was sent to San Antonio, where she continued her catechetical work. In 1946, through her efforts and those of Archbishop Robert E. Lucey, the Catechists of Divine Providence received approval from the Sacred Congregation of Religious in Rome to become a branch of the Sisters of Divine Providence. Sister Benitia retired from her missionary work in 1960.