The Congregation was founded in 1936 but it’s history began almost two decades before and an ocean away. Bishop James Walsh joined the Maryknoll Fathers in the United States of America and Mother Mary appeared to him in a dream, asking that he go overseas to evangelize in China.
In 1918, he was one of the first Maryknoll Fathers to go to China, assigned to Kwantung Province in the south. The Fathers had much to learn about Chinese society and customs, including that it was frowned upon for the priests to converse directly with Chinese women. But they found a way. To address this social taboo, the Maryknoll Fathers trained female catechists so in turn the new catechists could reach out to the Chinese women.
Some women in the catechists’ training program were inspired by the Holy Spirit and wanted to discern a religious life. In February of 1936, Pope Pius XII granted approval for Bishop Walsh to establish the new community of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
From their main convent in Kongmoon, the Sisters were sent out throughout China, on missions such as caring for lepers, the physically disabled, the sick and elderly. And the Sisters’ community grew in size and went further afield.
Starting in 1959, the Sisters worked in the diocese of Hong Kong, assisting pastors in apostolic ministries. Their mission in the city started with the purposes of education and evangelization. Fifty years later, today their work show in schools, kindergartens, daycare centres and senior homes that stand today.
In 1983, five Sisters of the congregation were given a special blessing to go to North America, to serve the growing Chinese communities of Canada and the United States of America. Presently in Vancouver, BC, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are at St Francis Xavier Parish serving in pastoral ministry and social welfare services, and operating Montessori kindergartens and daycare centres. Additionally, in 1994 a daycare was opened in Coquitlam, BC, that serves young families and carries on the evangelical work of the Sisters.
The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have served God’s people for 80 years, since their first mission to evangelize with the Maryknoll Fathers to Chinese women. The Sisters’ lofty spirits and dedication have changed so many lives everywhere they go, bringing the message of God through education and ministry.
Come by to visit us at our Convent located in Coquitlam.
Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
747 Alderson Avenue
Coquitlam, British Columbia V3K 1T9