The Remarkable Mary Ward

by Jim Manney

Mary Ward was an amazing woman whose vision for an active religious community of women was realized in the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary–the BVM sisters.  She modeled the BVMs on the Jesuits.   I was one of the horde of boomer Catholic children whom they taught in the Midwest in the post-war years.

Tim Muldoon wrote about Mary Ward a few years ago.  Lisa Kelly has an appreciation  here.

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Jim Manney

Senior Editor at Loyola Press
Jim Manney is a popular writer on Ignatian topics (God Finds Us, A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer) as well as the editor of many books on Ignatian spirituality, including What Is Ignatian Spirituality? He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Latest posts by Jim Manney (see all)

May 1, 2012

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn May 1, 2012 at 10:51 am

Thanks for this, I have a note to write more about Mary Ward, who is a hero of mine! So when I saw this, I thought, “hmmm, get back to that note and write more!”


Neil Draves-Arpaia May 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

I’m a bit confused here. I thought the initials for the Institute Mary Ward founded (The Sisters of Loretto) are IBVM, while the initials for the Institute Mary Frances Clarke founded (the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) are BVM. Would you check that out? Thanks.


Jim Manney May 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Neil — You are correct. My mistake: the IBVMs and BVMs are two separate groups. The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) were founded by Mary Frances Clarke in the 19th century. Mary Ward founded the Sisters of Loreto (IBVM) in the early seventeenth century.


Tim Muldoon May 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm

It’s worth noting, by the way, that both the IBVM’s and the BVM’s (of which my mother’s sister is a member! Hi Aunt Mary!) have been influenced by the Ignatian tradition.


Neil Draves-Arpaia May 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Thanks for the reply. Theese communities with similar intials have a joke among themselves that goes like this:

The BVMs….the regular, plain version

The IBVMs….the Improved BVMs

The PBVMs…the Perfected BVMs. (Sisters of the Presentation of the BVM)

So much for light hearted trivia. Take care.


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