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First Ursuline Candidate - 1857

Posted 2/27/2018

Ursulines Rejoice with New Candidate


Miss Maria Reynolds made 1857 an historic year not only for the Ursuline Convent but for the Catholic Church in Toledo, when on April 23 of that year she became the first young woman to enter a convent here.   Born in Providence, Rhode Island, she moved with her parents to Cleveland where her mother died soon after.  Her father, having to be both mother and father to Maria, formed her in the practice of virtue which prepared her for the many practices of religious life.

The seed of her vocation came to fruition when at 19 years of age she attended a mission at the Cleveland cathedral given by the celebrated Redemptorists, Father Hecker, Hewitt, and Walworth, who later founded the Sociaty of St. Paul. Realizing her aspirations to religious life, her pastor sent her to Bishop Rappe, who directed her to the Cleveland Ursulines, where Mother Annunciation received her cordially and informed her of the pressing need for new members in Toledo.  Would she be willing to undergo the many hardships there?  The young woman readily gave her consent and, after a short preparation, set out for Toledo, where her first employment was to carry mortar from a demolished frame building to make a walk to the French chapel.

At her clothing ceremony held in the French chapel, December 12, 1857, Maria received the name, Sister Immaculate Heart of Mary. Bishop Rappe presided and Grey Nuns. Sisters Brady and Sobieski sang the benediction hymns. All the solemnity the poor surroundings could admit was carried out to  make the occasion memorable for the young lady, the first in Toledo to offer herself to God in religion. Since that time hundreds of other have followed Miss Reynolds in the Ursuline chapel and the novitiates of  other religious communities. But perhaps no Convent ceremony since has been so interesting to Toledoans as that first touching exchange of bridal robe and veil for sombre serge of the Ursuline vowed to teach children the way to God.

Sister Immaculate Heart, under Mary's protection, persevered as a most devoted religious, a real pillar of the House of Ursuline, and later as one of its most beloved superiors.