We are an apostolic order of women religious, founded by Mary Ward in 1609. She believed that women could ‘do great things’ in the service of God, and struggled against the prejudices of her time to establish apostolic religious life for women, adopting the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuit model of life and mission.

Today, her vision continues to inspire and challenge us:

  • to be contemplatives in action, finding God in all things
  • to live as companions of Jesus, sharing his mission to the world
  • to be lovers of truth and workers of justice, in the light of the gospel
  • to be women of freedom and generosity, available to go wherever the need is greatest

‘As companions of Jesus in mission, we are called to be women of hope in order to bring hope… Mary Ward calls us to be rooted in God, passionate for Christ, courageous prophets ready to take risks.’

General Congregation 2011

Our Name

As Mary Ward’s vision of apostolic life for women on the Jesuit model was not accepted for centuries, we did not have an official name for many years, being known as ‘English Ladies’ or, by our enemies, ‘Galloping Girls’ or ‘Jesuitesses’.  When we gained recognition in the C19th we took the name Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and kept that name for over 100 years.  This name is still held by the Loreto sisters, who share Mary Ward as their foundress.  Mary Ward believed that God’s desire was for us to be called by the name of Jesus.  When we were granted the full Jesuit Constitutions in 2004, as she had always dreamed, we took the name Mary Ward had wished to give us.

Serve God with great love and liberty of mind.

Mary Ward