To Worship and Serve God: The Story of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

Founded by Maria del Refugio in Mexico in 1910

An inspiration experienced while on a retreat and a great desire to spread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament formed the foundation of a great religious order of sisters headquartered in Mexico which serves in many countries throughout the world.

In 1896, a Franciscan priest organized a retreat for ladies in San Miguel de Allende, in central Mexico. The retreat was attended by Maria del Refugio Aguilar de Cancino, a 29-year-old widow and mother. At this retreat, which was based on the spiritual exercises introduced by St. Ignatius Loyola, Maria experienced a profound spiritual renewal and she then realized that the purpose of man is to worship and serve God.

Servant of God Mother Maria de Fugio
Maria was left a widow and mother at age 22.

As a catechist, a mother, and a person devoted to the Eucharist who felt the desire and need to love and serve others, Maria del Refugio felt that Our Lord had entrusted her with the salvation of children and young people.

Mercedarian Sisters of Blessed Sacrament at prayer
Spreading love for the Blessed Sacrament

Love for the Blessed Sacrament

On day while praying in a cathedral before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, she had the idea of founding a religious institute devoted to spreading love for the Blessed Sacrament and making reparation for the sins of the world. It would be an institute which would set up educational establishments, centers of religious teaching and libraries for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel, and inspiring and disseminating love for the Blessed Sacrament. She conveyed this idea to her priest, and on March 25, 1910, the Apostolate of the Blessed Sacrament was founded.

In 1922 the Congregation of Religious in Rome granted permission for the group’s canonical foundation. The community was gradually taking on a Mercedarian character, and Maria del Refugio requested incorporation into the Order of Mercy, which was granted in 1925. They were then known as Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

Mercedarian men and Mercedarian Sisters
Camaraderie of the Sisters and the Mercedarian men

Intense Persecution

Her congregation endured intense persecution by Mexican authorities during the time of the Mexican Revolution of the early twentieth century. Foreseeing this, Maria del Refugio established houses in Spain and Italy as a means of preserving the vocational calling of her nuns and keeping the life of the Institute going. The superior general and her counselors remained in Mexico City, leaving their convent for a while to take refuge in the cellar of a neighboring house from which they continued running the Institute.

In 1929 the training center for the Sisters in Oklahoma was operational, as well as two schools in Cuba, one in El Salvador, one in Chile, one in Spain, one in Columbia and another in Italy. Maria del Refugio died in 1937. The cause for her canonization was formally opened in 1982.

School children study a picture of the foundress.
Teaching and sharing their love of God 

Teaching and Sharing

Today, the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament are teaching and sharing their love of God in twelve countries with a membership of over six hundred Sisters. In the United States, they can be found in Louisiana and Ohio. Their mission is to love and adore Jesus in the Eucharist and to spread this love, especially in the hearts of children and youth through education.

Go to the Cypress Springs Prayer Center and read about the foundation of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Read a short biography of this servant of God in Spanish on the website of the Archdiocese of Mexico City.

For vocation information:

Sr. Jeanette Estrada, H.M.S.S.
1355 W. 70th St.
Cleveland, OH 44102


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