Community History 

 

The Beginning
hist1In 1976, Father Lloyd Ryan and some of his parishioners at Church of Our Lady Immaculate in Guelph, Ontario, met together to discuss two great crises that the Church in Canada was undergoing at the time: the insufficient religious education that school children were receiving and the crisis within religious life which became more apparent after the Second Vatican Council. Praying to the Lord to grant them wisdom, and after a number of meetings, they discerned that an answer to both problems might be the foundation of a new religious order of women who would be dedicated to living the religious life authentically and teaching our Holy Catholic Faith with courage. A letter was written with the approval and blessing of Father Ryan and was submitted to Catholic newspapers both in Canada and the United States, with the title "Women: Are you interested in a new Religious Community?"

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The letter in the Catholic Register newspaper was read by Sister Mary Josephine Mulligan, a Grey Sister of the Immaculate Conception of Pembroke, Ontario and not only was Sister in agreement with the ideas expressed, but she herself had also felt an inspiration to establish just such a Community, for the good of the Church. It seemed that Divine Providence wanted to establish this new religious family under the care of both a Mother and a Father.

Once Sister Mary Josephine began to correspond with Father Ryan, he invited her to come to Guelph where she could begin the establishment of the new community in his Parish of Our Lady Immaculate. Sister spoke to her superiors in Pembroke of her desire. They regretted that she wished to withdraw from the Grey Sisters' Community. In time, they granted permission, as did the Bishop of Pembroke. Permission was also sought from the Bishop of Hamilton, Bishop Paul Reding, who readily gave his approval.

 

 

hist3Foundation in Guelph
On August 1, 1977 Sister Mary Josephine came to Guelph to begin the new Foundation. Beside the towering and beautiful Church of Our Lady Immaculate there is a small grey stone house, formerly the caretaker's cottage; this was to be the Community's first convent. Many parishioners donated furniture, household articles, food and other necessities to make Sister feel welcome and to show their support for her work. Sister was now working for the Wellington County Separate School Board as Religious Consultant, helping to direct the teachers towards better catechetics and supporting the new small religious community.

 

hist4Always, Sister kept in mind the ideal of a fervent community of sisters, faithfully living their vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience. They would be obedient to the Magisterium of the Church, and would have as their principal apostolate the teaching of catechism.

It was soon decided that the Community would be known as Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate, being placed under Our Lady's loving and powerful patronage.

 

 

hist5During the months following Sister Mary Josephine's arrival, inquiries and visits began from young women interested in religious life. They spoke with Mother and with Father Ryan. In the autumn of 1978 the first young woman entered as a candidate. Others followed in the months to come. A special gift from Our Lord was the arrival of Sister St. Henry Moloney in 1981, another Grey Sister of Pembroke, who would help Sister Mary Josephine in the new Foundation. Both sisters knew each other well, having been on Mission together in the Dominican Republic in the 1950's and shared the desire to help build up the Church by fidelity to their vowed lives out of love for Christ.

Cambridge, Ontario
hist6Soon the convent in Guelph was too small for the community and a new convent was obtained in Cambridge (Preston), Ontario. In 1980 Our Lady's Convent was blessed and Father Ryan offered the first Mass in the new chapel. At this time, Mother Mary Josephine, recognized another great need facing the Church, the care of the elderly and deprived in a society that no longer sees them as necessary but rather a burden. To care for the spiritual and physical needs of these children of God so forgotten and ignored, Mother Mary Josephine opened Marian Residence Retirement Home. The Home provided the elderly with a Catholic environment wherein they could practice their Faith by receiving the sacraments, and have the opportunity to grow in that same Faith through the love and care of the sisters.  Since that time, the Sisters have taught catechism and helped direct  Parish activities such as the Legion of Mary.

hist7Mission in Port Hood, Nova Scotia


In 1994, at the invitation of the Parish Priest of St. Peter's Church in Port Hood, Nova Scotia, and with the approval of His Excellency, Bishop Colin Campbell, then Bishop of the Antigonish Diocese, Mother Mary Josephine sent three young sisters to open the Community's first Mission House. Here they would care for a smaller number of seniors and participate in the parish catechetical program. In time, the convent's chapel would become one of the first Eucharistic Adoration Chapels in Nova Scotia, making it possible for adults as well as youth and children to grow in their Faith and in their relationship with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

 

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Foundress and Founder Called Home

Having fulfilled the Lord's call to help found the new SOLI Community, the growth and ongoing work was now to be left to Father Ryan and Mother Mary Josephine's spiritual children. On June 9, 1996, the Feast of Corpus Christi, Mother Mary Josephine was unexpectedly called home by God. Sister St. Henry Moloney became the community's new hist9Superior General, guiding the fledgling Order for the next twelve years. In the year 2000, with the blessing of Father Ryan, Mother St. Henry, wishing to fulfill our Foundress' desire to adapt the community's habit to a more traditional style, helped to design the sisters' new habit complete with Our Lady's scapular and holy rosary.

 

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In 2003, Christ was again about to share His cross with the young community. On February 18th, after a brief illness, Father Ryan, the co-founder of the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate, was also unexpectedly called home to his reward.

 

 

 

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Our Lady Immaculate Formation House

In 2005, Our Lady Immaculate Formation House was opened in Glen Morris, Ontario and blessed by His Excellency, Bishop Anthony F. Tonnos, Bishop of Hamilton. In 2007, Mother St. Henry, stepped down as Superior General because of age and Mother Dorothy Nzekwe, a native of Nigeria and first superior of the mission in Port Hood, was elected to succeed her.

 

 

SOLI House of Studies
hist12In 2008, the SOLI House of Studies was opened in the Diocese of Pembroke, in Barry's Bay in order that the sisters may study at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy.  Although not a formally established permanent convent, sisters do reside there during the academic year, living their conventual life with the privilege of having the Blessed Sacrament reserved in their Chapel.  They also teach catechism and help form girls from the area in the Daughters of St. Joseph sodality.

 

hist13Invitation to Catechize in Two Parishes in Kitchener, Ontario

In 2008, the Sisters were invited by the Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish  to run the catechetical program for the children in public schools.  Presently it is coordinated and taught by the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate.

In 2009, the Pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in Kitchener asked the Sisters to direct and staff the catechetical program for their children in public schools. 

 
 
 

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