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Educational Ministries in North America

The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have been involved in the education of young persons and adults since the foundation of the Congregation in 1845. From a humble beginning in a log cabin, and reaching unimagined proportions over the years, God continues to shape the size and scope of the IHM mission according to the resources of the Congregation.

For more than a century and a half, the IHMs have blazed a pioneer trail in the education of youth and adults from pre-school grades to post-doctoral education. They have created an outstanding legacy of service to parishes and diocesan systems, as well in IHM-sponsored institutions.

Elementary Schools

Because of the special dedication of the Congregation to the preparation of young persons for the reception of the Sacraments, elementary education has always claimed a privileged place in IHM ministry. The Congregation is dedicated to the education of youth and adults and provides special services for the preparation of teachers. One of these services is a publication series called, Apostolic Briefings and Communications --ABC Notes.

Click here to read ABC Notes

Those who instruct others. . .shall shine as stars for all eternity.

--Daniel 12:3

Click on the links to see listings of the Elementary Education Facilities and Catholic Secondary Schools staffed by IHMs  in North America.

IHM Elementary Academies

Villa Maria Academy (,  a Roman Catholic private day school located in Immaculata, Pennsylvania, was established in 1872 by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Villa Maria Academy strives to prepare girls to become Christian women assuming leadership and services roles within the family, the local and global community as well as their parish and the universal Church. While integrating spirituality with academics, the school-wide goals seek to impart a love for life-long learning, the development of critical thinking skills and the nurturing of creativity, beauty, truth and reverence for each person as a unique expression of God’s creation. Villa Maria’s currently offers a day school for girls in grades K-8 and a co-ed Early Learning Center for 3- and 4-year-olds.


St. Aloysius Academy ( has an impressive legacy beginning in 1895 with its establishment by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. While always in the process of growing, updating and improving, the Academy has kept sacred those essential elements that give the institution its unique strong traditions in the IHM Charism of love, creative hope and fidelity.

St. Aloysius Academy provides a dynamic, rich and challenging learning environment for boys in Grades K-8 that recognizes their needs and develops their gifts and talents. Within a faith-based setting, relational learning permeates our nurturing and formative atmosphere where each student can grow to be his personal best. Students are inspired by the example of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the school patron, to be young men for others. Whether art or sports, music, academics or technology, each student has opportunities to participate and to excel. The Academy also offers a co-ed Montessori Pre-school experience fondly known as the Clockhouse Montessori.

Immaculata University

Immaculata's origins date from 1906 when the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary purchased the present site in Frazer, Chester County. Ground was broken for Villa Maria Hall (the central campus building) in 1908, and two years later, the massive stonewalls were complete. The growth of Immaculata University over the past eight decades has been gradual, yet consistent. The initial 198 campus acres have grown to approximately 373, while the two original dormitory-classroom structures are now part of a twelve-principal-building complex, representing a multi-million dollar investment.

Immaculata University ( continues to profess its tradition as a Catholic liberal arts institution of higher education with the primary mission of teaching. Founded originally as Villa Maria College, the institution was granted a college charter in 1920, making it the first Catholic college for women in the Philadelphia area. In 1929, the name was formally changed to Immaculata College to accommodate government regulations for the naming of the post office. On June 10, 2002, Immaculata University received approval from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to “operate as a university” and to assume the name Immaculata University.

The faculty consists of approximately 100 full-time priests, sisters, and laypersons; these educators uphold and enliven a tradition of educational excellence sustained within an environment of concern for and interest in each individual. The genuine personal concern shown each student in an atmosphere of respect, vitality, and warmth is one of the distinct characteristics of Immaculata. The university has been recognized as an outstanding institution representing the highest quality in offering individualized preparation for careers and service.

To read more about Immaculata, please click here.
To learn more about Immaculata University, visit the web site at

Other IHM Educational Ministries

In keeping with the Alphonsian preference for "the poor," the Sisters have dedicated their personnel and their resources to founding and staffing educational centers for those "in need" of special consideration.

Saint Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments

Saint Lucy Day School was founded in 1955 at the request of parents who wanted their children to receive the special education services they needed in a spiritually enriching environment. Administered by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this school revolutionized the idea of providing education for children who are blind or partially sighted without isolating them from family and the regular school system. St. Lucy Day School is one of the five Special Education schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and serves Visually Impaired students from a five county area. In April 1997, Saint Lucy Day School was chosen as one of the 25 most innovative Catholic schools in the nation.

Archbishop Ryan Academy for the Deaf

Founded in 1912, the Archbishop Ryan School is a special facility for children with hearing disabilities. In this atmosphere of faith centered on language, the children learn in an environment that fosters the development of a relationship with God as well as the maximizing of the personal gifts of each one. Archbishop Ryan School is a part of the Special Education Division of the Office of Catholic Education within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It is staffed by three congregations of religious women. IHMs have been involved in the program since 1998.

IHM Literacy Centers

The IHM Center for Literacy and GED Programs, with its two urban sites in North and Southwest Philadelphia, was founded by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to meet the ever-burgeoning multi-ethnic, mainly non-English-speaking communities of the city. The first site at Incarnation parish, opened in 1989, is now located at St. Bernard's Parish; the second, at St. Francis de Sales began in 1991.



The Literacy Centers offer instruction in English as a Second Language and high school equivalency (GED) programs. Learners of all faiths and nationalities, at all stages of English acquisition, are welcome at the center. Sisters and lay volunteers serve a diverse community of adult immigrant learners from dozens of countries in small classes that fit the learners' abilities, from beginning to advanced levels.

    The IHM Family Literacy Center is committed to breaking the cycle of illiteracy that exists within many Hispanic families in the Coatesville area of PA.  The Center provides an early learning center for toddlers from three to five years old. The learning center emphasizes English language acquisition in preparation for kindergarten.  Simultaneously, mothers receive instruction in English as a second language, parenting support, life skills, citizenship, computer skills and in the MOTHEREAD national literacy program. All is provided in a faith-based atmosphere of prayer and Catholic values.

Sister Bernadette Mary Hiester, IHM – Director
The IHM Family Literacy Center
406 Charles Street
Coatesville, PA  19320

Web address:

IHM Formative ParentingFormParent

"To find our calling is to find the intersection between our own deep gladness and the world's deep hunger. Frederick Buechner

Whole-person education is vital in the life of a child for soulful reasons and for the good of society. Because child-rearing also impacts the mission of the Catholic School, the Church now calls Catholic Schools to be agencies of formative education for parents as well as students. Therefore, teachers require formative support for their own professional development and to be prepared to offer practical resources to parents. Formative education supports whole-person development, that is, education that fosters spiritual, social, psychological, emotional, and moral maturity. 

Through publication, program development, and public speaking the IHM Office of Formative Support focuses on issues of positive identity (self-esteem), character development, self-discipline, morality, discipleship, and spiritual growth. For more information, please follow the references below.

Sr. Patricia M. McCormack, IHM
IHM Office of FORMATIVE SUPPORT for Parents & Teachers
St. Barnabas Convent
6328 Buist Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19142
Visit our web site at

Other Educational Outreach Programs

The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are involved in many state- and federally-funded outreach programs. Some examples are the READS program, Chapter I, CORA, Rainbows, and other literacy programs in the Philadelphia area.

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