Sisters of Charity of Nazareth

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Sisters of Charity of Nazareth
FormationDecember 1, 1812
Typereligious institute
HeadquartersNazareth, Kentucky
  • United States, Belize, Botswana, India, Nepal

The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCN) was founded in 1812 near Bardstown, Kentucky when three young women responded to Bishop John Baptist Mary David's call for assistance in ministering to the needs of the people of the area.


The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth were founded in 1812. Mother Catherine Spalding, along with Bishop John Baptist David, are honored together and remembered as co-founders of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.[1]

In 1812, in the newly formed diocese of Bardstown, Kentucky, Bishop Benedict Flaget was overwhelmed by the responsibility of providing religious education for the children of Catholic families who had migrated to Kentucky from Maryland after the Revolutionary War. In response to this need, Father John Baptist David called for young women willing to devote their lives to the service of the Church. From among a group of six women that responded to the call, nineteen-year-old Catherine Spalding, originally from Maryland, was elected first superior of the Congregation. Mother Catherine guided the young Congregation for forty-five years.[1]

The new community followed the rule of St. Vincent de Paul and their dwelling was named Nazareth. The symbol of the congregation is the pelican feeding its young from its own body. The Sisters' spiritual formation and service to their neighbors steadily expanded on the Kentucky frontier and beyond. They are now an international congregation, both in ministry and membership. They serve in 20 states in the U.S., in India, Nepal, Botswana, and Belize.

Since the beginning years of the congregation, SCNs have been involved in a variety of ministries, responding to the needs of the times. Their education ministry began in 1814 when the first school was opened; that institution evolved into today's Spalding University. In 1832, when Catherine Spalding brought home two orphans left on the wharf in Louisville, their social work ministry began. The following year, when cholera struck, SCNs nursed victims of the disease. So began their health care ministry. Pastoral ministry later emerged within the congregation as a distinct form of ministry after Vatican II as they followed the call of the Church to respond to the signs of the times.

They are committed to six priorities in ministry: promoting peace, promoting humanization of values, opposing racism, alleviating poverty, supporting women's issues and supporting environmental issues. Through their daily lives and ministries, in collaboration with their Associates and others, they are living out these priorities to meet the changing needs of today's world in their spirit of pioneering.


"Caritas Christi Urget Nos" –The Love of Christ Impels Us.[1]

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