The first community of Wisdom gathered in 1703 in a poor house in Poitier, France to care for the needs of their neighbors. Sr. Marie-Louise Trichet became a part of the community under the guidance of a lay superior. This core community was joined by residents and benefactors and a wisdom way of life devolved which integrated prayer, community and service. St. Louis Marie de Montfort offered spiritual formation through two of his early writings. The Love of Eternal Wisdom he gave to Marie-Louise to guide them in their quest for Wisdom - eternal Wisdom of the Hebrew scriptures and Jesus, Incarnate Wisdom of the Christian Scriptures. He outlined four pathways on this journey – ardent desire, persevering prayer, universal sacrifice or suffering and a tender and true devotion to Mary. A second treatise entitled True Devotion to Mary further developed spiritual foundations and timely practices to support the journey.
As Daughters of Wisdom spread through western Europe, the Americas, Africa, and eventually Asia, they shared their life and their spirituality and developed unique prayer and ritual in collaboration with their hosts and neighbors. The quest for Wisdom remained at the heart of the community and the manifestations of each culture enriched all.
In the United States in the latter half of the 20th century there was an increased desire for education and formation in scripture, theology and spirituality. Such endeavors led to learning and working with men and women from differing congregational traditions. Over time this led to ecumenical and interfaith conversation and collaboration in local churches, retreat houses and spirituality Centers. Daughters of Wisdom in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, New York, the Carolinas and the Virginias shared in this mutual enrichment.
In a world often divided by religion and theology, the way of wisdom opened doors to discover the perennial wisdom that is the foundations of all authentic spirituality.
+ The Daughters of Wisdom have ministered in the Diocese of Hartford, Connecticut since 1949 and currently serve at:
- Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center, Litchfield, CT
- Lourdes in Litchfield, CT
- Sacred Heart Church, Southbury, CT
- St. Bernadette's Parish, New Haven, CT
- St. Regis Nursing Home, New Haven, CT
- Corpus Christi School, Wethersfield, CT
+ Diocese of St. Augustine, FL since 1984 and currently serve at:
- Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
+ Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL since 2000 and currently serve at:
- Catholic Charities
+ Diocese of Portland, ME since 1904 and currently serve at:
- St. Agatha's Parish, St. Agatha, ME
- The Center for Wisdom's Women, Lewiston, ME
+Diocese of Brooklyn, NY since 1904 and currently serve at:
- St. Mary Gate of Heaven, Ozone Park, NY
- St. Matthew's, Brooklyn, NY
- St. Raphael, Long Island City, NY
- Our Lady of Mercy, Brooklyn, NY
- St. Vincent's Services, Brooklyn, NY
- Montfort Spiritual Center, Bay Shore, NY
- St. Virgilius, Broad Channel, NY
- Shrine Church of St. Jude, Brooklyn, NY
+ Diocese of Rockville Center, NY since 1957 and currently serve at:
- St. Mary's Parish, East Islip, NY
- St. James Parish, Setauket, NY
- St. Hugh of Lincoln, Huntington Station, NY
- St. Martin of Tours Parish, Amityville, NY
- St. Raymond's Church, East Rockaway, NY
- St. William the Abbot RCC, Seaford, NY
- Hope House Ministries, Port Jefferson, NY
- St. Boniface, Elmont, NY
+ Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina since 1994 and currently serve at:
- St. Frances, Walhalla, SC
+ Diocese of Richmond, Virginia since 1944 and currently serve at:
- Maryview Hospital, Portsmouth, VA
- St. Mary's, Norfolk, VA
+ Diocese of Arlington, Virginia from 1994-2012 at:
- St. Bernadette's Parish, Springfield, VA
+ Dioscese of Wheeling, West Virginia from 1977-2012 at:
- Pineville Clinic, Pineville, W VA
- Dioscese of Pueblo, CO
From the earliest days of their founding in 1703 Daughters of Wisdom have been involved in caring for the health of the poor and needy in their midst. Shortly after their arrival to the United States, in the early years of the twentieth century, they were entrusted with the care of children disabled by congenital defects, tuberculosis, polio and many other physical and mental deficits. This ministry grew into several diocesan hospitals in the New York area and one with a school of nursing in Virginia. Eventually, in the aftermath of Vatican II, the Sisters extended their ministrations into the fields of public health, clinics, hospital chaplaincy, teaching nursing in collegiate settings and home healthcare.
From their very beginning in the 1700’s, the Daughters of Wisdom were sent to cities throughout France to educate young girls and those who were poor. Their dedication to education continues to this day in the United States and, internationally, in 21 countries of the world. In the United States, the Sisters cultivated formal learning in primary and secondary schools, parish religious education programs and in university medical settings. Over time the sisters’ ministries have evolved as well into a broad range of education in home, neighborhood, civic, retreat center and social outreach settings.
Nurtured in faith and service by a deeply Christian family, Marie Louise Trichet from her youth worked among the poor. Inspired by Father de Montfort and seeking to live the radical gospel of love, she chose to live as one of the inmates at the General Hospital, which in 17th century France was an overcrowded poorhouse and asylum, crowded with the sick, the poor, those who were crippled, beggars, and the mentally ill.
Today, Daughters of Wisdom continue the mission of Marie Louise worldwide in social outreach projects and programs that address the major social issues of our times: poverty in families; displacement of peoples and refugee crises; immigration and the undocumented; racial, sexual and religious discrimination; human trafficking and ecological and environmental peril. In the United States from Maine to Florida, Sisters and Associates do both direct service and systemic advocacy in their social outreach efforts. The stories that follow illustrate the Gospel imperative that transformed Marie Louise and continues to draw us “to bring the message of Jesus, Incarnate Wisdom, to people experiencing injustice, violence, poverty and oppression, especially women and children.” (Mission Statement)
"Members of an international Congregation, the Daughters of Wisdom are attentive to the massive consciousness of the global dimension. Inhabitants of an Earth that is threatened in its existence and where human rights are scorned, we announce the Spirit who is always at work and denounce the false wisdoms that destroy life." (Way of Life, #2)
Over the years Sisters from the United States have fulfilled this mandate by serving as missionaries in Columbia, Peru, Haiti, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Papua New Guinea. Many Sisters have served in Congregational leadership in Rome. Sisters have and continue to conduct retreats and workshops on Wisdom Spirituality, the Montfortian charism, prayer and vowed life in Madagascar, the Philippines, France, Rome, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, India and Indonesia. The global realities of our times call us in mission to be "present in a world that hungers for meaning, justice and compassion."