Teresa Lalor - Life

Life

Christened Alice, she was born in County Laois, Ireland, the daughter of Denis and Catherine Lalor, but moved with her family to Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny as a child. Her childhood was spent in Ireland with her sisters. At her request, John Lanigan, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ossory, made arrangements for her entrance into a convent of his diocese which her family opposed. She however, instead agreed to accompany her sister, Mrs. Doran and her husband, an American merchant to America, during the winter of 1794. They arrived in America on 5 January 1795."American Catholic Quarterly Review" Vol XI 1886 p. 34

Moving to Philadelphia in 1797, she became acquainted with Fr. Neale, then the pastor of St. Joseph's Church in that city, and under his direction she devoted herself to works of piety and charity with a small group of associates. The group went on to open an academy for the instruction of girls; but an epidemic of yellow fever carried off Miss Lalor's companions. Fr. Neale was transferred in 1799 from Philadelphia, to become President of Georgetown College; she also went to Georgetown, D.C., and was for a time domiciled with a small community of Poor Clares, exiled from France. On the departure of the Poor Clares from America, Neale purchased a house for Lalor and two companions to open a school of their own, a house which stood within the grounds of the later Visitation Convent, Georgetown, the oldest monastery of the Order in the U.S.

The "pious ladies", as they were called, aspired to become Religious Sisters; Bishop Neale wished to affiliate them with the Visitation Order. The disturbed condition of affairs in Europe, due to the Napoleonic Wars, prevented this until 1816, when he obtained a grant from Pope Pius VII for the community to be considered as belonging to the Order of the Visitation. Mother Teresa and the two other Sisters were professed on the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 26) of that same year, and became the first mother superior of the Georgetown monastery. She lived to see three other houses of the Institute founded, offshoots of the mother community: Mobile, Alabama in 1832; Kaskaskia (afterwards transferred to St. Louis), in 1833; and Baltimore, in 1837.

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