The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), known as the Loreto Sisters, the Mary Ward Sisters and the Irlandesas, was founded by an English woman, Mary Ward, in 1609. Mary Ward, a resilient person of great faith and strength of character, was a woman before her time. Labeled a heretic in her day for simply wanting to answer God’s call to serve in the Ignatian spirit in an uncommonly feminine charism of freedom, justice and integrity, she wanted to serve the people of her time, but died misunderstood. Through the centuries her spirit prospered through adversity and continues to grow. Now reconciled and recognized as Venerable, her charism is a beacon in the Church and the world still wanting the energy, leadership, spirituality and courage of women.