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Victoria, Texas:  Click here to go to the community's Web site
In 1625, Jeanne Chézard de Matel began the Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament in Roanne, France. In prayer Jeanne Chézard de Matel had heard, "You shall carry My Name throughout the earth. I am not yet declaring to you how this will occur, for the hour has not yet come..." (1642). Two centuries later, in 1852, the time had come for His Name to be carried to the New World and from there throughout the earth, and Mother St. Claire Valentine would be the one destined by God to fulfill this promise and extend the Incarnation beyond the boundaries of France.

In 1852, Mother St. Claire Valentine, who was barely 24 years of age and the superior of three companion Sisters, left France to travel to America and open a foundation in Brownsville. This became the cradle of the Order of the Incarnate Word in America.

Foundresses of Nazareth Academy - December 21, 1866

Mother St. Claire Valentine

Mother St. Paul Goux

Mother Mary Louise Murray

Sister Mary of the Cross Murray

Sister Justine Fonvielle

Sister Regis Chavassieux

In a community meeting on August 22, 1866, Mother St. Ange and the Brownsville community gave their consent to Bishop Dubuis for the foundation of a monastery in Victoria, Texas. Five Sisters were chosen from Brownsville: Mother St. Claire Valentine, superioress; Sister Paul Goux, assistant; Sister Mary Louise Murray and her sister, Sister Mary of the Cross Murray; and Sister Justine Fonvielle. Sister Regis Chavassieux, a novice came directly from France.

On December 21, 1866, Mother St. Claire and her four companions from Brownsville arrived in Victoria and were joined by Sister Regis. They were warmly welcomed by the people of Victoria and by their pastor, Father Augustine Gardet, who offered them his two-story frame house which consisted of four rooms. The first school was opened on January 7, 1867, with an enrollment of 55 pupils. It was known as "The Convent School" while the official religious designated name was the "Monastery of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament of Victoria, Texas." Mother St. Claire renamed the school, "academy of Nazareth," and it was under this title that it was chartered on May 5, 1880.

From this monastery of Nazareth more monasteries were founded as the Sisters responded to the need for more schools. Because of the cloister, the Sisters could not leave the Victoria monastery to go to other parishes to teach, so new cloistered monasteries were established.

After the lifting of the cloister in 1916 the Sisters from each of the monasteries began to leave the monasteries and go out to other towns and parishes to teach and to minister in hospitals. After the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the Sisters from the various Incarnate Word monasteries began to meet and discuss the possibility of some type of reconfiguration. There were three autonomous Houses of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament in the Archdiocese of San Antonio in Texas; on August 12, 1939 the Houses in Victoria, San Antonio, and Shiner voted to form a union. A decree of union was authorized on August 5, 1939, and the revised Constitutions received papal approval on August 14, 1939. The first General Chapter, held on December 28, 1939, chose Nazareth Convent in Victoria, Texas as the Motherhouse and Novitiate.

Nazareth Convent served as the central headquarters for the total membership from the union in 1939 to 1963. The facilities at Nazareth Convent became inadequate to accommodate the growth of the Community; with the help of the people of Victoria and surrounding areas a new structure was built on a 40-acre tract which the Sisters had purchased in 1880. The new headquarters, dedicated on April 28, 1963, was named Incarnate Word Convent.

Today the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament gather to adore the Incarnate Word and become living reminders of His Love through their lives, their prayer, and their apostolic work in the Church. Jesus Christ, the Word sent by the Father as humanity's Savior, became incarnate in the fullness of time to reveal the Father's Love to the world. To be faithful to their mission of continuing this revelation, they gather in unity to proclaim by their lives that LOVE has become Incarnate and dwells among us. They remember what their foundress, Jeanne de Matel wrote, "The intense fire that is burning within you is the Divine Word living in you. Through this union with you, the Word has been made flesh."

As of November 2008, there are 86 Sisters in this community and you will find them ministering in Catholic and public schools, in child care centers, in parishes in religious education and adult formation, in diocesan offices, in hospitals and health care centers, in foreign missions, and in prison ministry. You will also meet them at retreat centers and addressing the concerns for peace and justice.

Called in the Church to witness to the Incarnate Word's presence in the world, they generously exert every effort to radiate Christ's peace and love in all areas of their apostolate. With Jesus they strive to accept unconditionally all persons who enter their lives, showing special concern for the poor.

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