Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Institute of the Divine Compassion

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 5
Institute of the Divine Compassion

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Founded in the City of New York, USA, by the Rt. Rev. Thomas Stanislaus Preston. On 8 September 1869, Father Preston began a semi-weekly gathering of the poor and abject children of the street in one of the most wretched quarters of the city; after this came the opening of a house for the reformation of young girls not yet hardened in vice, and the preservation of children and older girls from the moral danger in which they lived. The founded called it the House of the Holy Family and became its spiritual director. The work was fostered by many prominent Catholic ladies of New York, under the name of The Association for Befriending Children and Young Girls. Foremost among these ladies was Mrs. Mary C.D. Starr (in religion Mother Veronica; d. 9 Aug., 1904), who became the president of the association and devoted all her time and energies to this work of charity under the direction of Father Preston. Seeing the necessity of a religious community which should be trained to this work and perpetuate it, Father Preston compiled a rule of life for those who desired to devote their lives to it. The first draft was written 5 September, 1873, and was observed in its elemental form until 1886, when it was elaborated and obtained the informal approbation of the Archbishop of New York. The constitutions, which are an enlargement of the rule, and represent the norm of living in the institute, were written gradually, as it developed, and reached their completion in 1899. On the 29th of September, 1990, both rule and constitutions received the express canonical aprobation of Archbishop Corrigan of New York. The object of the institute is (1) the reformation of erring girls; and (2) the training, religious, mental, and industrial of girls in moral danger from ignorance, indolence, or waywardness, or dangerous influences. The institute is composed of two classes, choir sisters and little (or lay) sisters. In addition to the House of the Holy Family the sisters are in charge of a training home in New York City. The institute comprises about 40 sisters in charge of 215 girls.