The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), popularly known as the Loreto Sisters (*), was founded by an English woman, Mary Ward, in 1609.
In the 19th Century, Mary Ward’s vision was brought to Ireland by Sister Teresa Ball. Under the leadership of Sister Gonzaga Barry, the Loreto sisters came to Australia in 1875.
Today, there are two branches of the order, the IBVM which began in Ireland and the Congregatio Jesu begun in Europe. Both branches, working closely together, educate women so that they can live creatively their special call from God and contribute to a better world.
(*) The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary Sisters opened many schools for girls and named the schools Loreto (Mary Ward went on a pilgrimage to the holy place of Our Lady of Loreto in Italy and she asked Mary to take care of the school as if she was taking care of her holy family). Therefore, people also call the Blessed Virgin Mary nuns Loreto Sisters.