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Sisters of the Immaculate Conception: ‘Forward, go always forward’

November 12, 2015
Sister Angeles Marin, RCM

Catholic San Francisco is featuring one religious congregation from the archdiocese in each installment of this periodic column marking the Vatican’s Year of Consecrated Life.

We, Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, were founded in 1892, by St. Carmen de Jesus Sallés in Burgos, Spain. We came to California in 1962 to the Diocese of Fresno and in the early 1980s we expanded to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where we are still present in St. Brigid School.

Carmen Sallés was a woman of courage who was determined to seek and do the will of God at all cost. She was also a pilgrim of hope. Hope for the girls she dedicated her life to educate their minds and hearts so they may have a better life; hope that God will provide because his grace will never fail. Her motto was “Forward, go always forward. God will provide.” She was beatified March 18, 1998, by St. John Paul II, and canonized Oct. 21, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI.

Mary under the mystery of the Immaculate Conception as contemplated by St. Carmen Sallés, is at the center of our charism which is trinitarian, Christ-centered and eucharistic. The mission that flows from our charism is carried essentially through education, having its roots in Christ the teacher, and in Mary Immaculate, the first fruit of the redemption.

The missionary commitment is essential to our spirituality and charism. Although we work in other areas of evangelization, such as parish education programs, youth groups, houses of spirituality, orphanages, detention ministry, dining rooms, and campesino ministry, our main apostolate remains the education of children and youth handed down to us by St. Carmen Sallés. It is the mystery of Mary conceived without sin that fascinated St. Carmen and motivated her mission: To educate the minds and hearts of children after the model of Mary Immaculate to prevent evil from entering their lives, so that when they have met Jesus as the truth, they may follow him as faithful disciples. To help the children and youth in their decision making in order to live honest and useful lives in our society and finally to become citizens of heaven, is the purpose of our mission. In all parts of the world where we are located, the mission of evangelization continues to be carried out by the sisters according to the needs and culture of the people.

Even though we are 500 religious in number and working in five continents and 17 different countries, we feel as belonging to one family in collaboration with the laypeople we share our charism, spirituality and mission.

To Mary we lift our hearts frequently asking her for help, so she can teach us to educate as she did. Our educational centers are like a garden where God placed us, so all the religious and educators, together with the families, must cultivate it. St. Carmen used to tell us “You will encounter Jesus in the hearts of children.” We attend all social classes, paying special attention to the most needy.

The congregation became “Soil of Blessing” according to the words of St. Carmen de Jesús Sallés and we know we are called to receive God’s blessing. The missionary challenge is to open new ways and horizons to try to imitate the apostolic zeal, creativity and strength of our foundress.


Sisters of the Immaculate Conception

Full name of the congregation: Sisters of the Immaculate Conception

When and where founded: 1892, Burgos, Spain

First arrived in the archdiocese: 1982

Original ministry: Education

Current ministries: Education

Number of sisters: 500 congregation, 5 archdiocese

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