Ladies of Charity

An association of "women of the world" who endeavor by coordinating their charitable work, to accomplish greater and more desirable results than would be possible by individual isolated efforts. The organization owes its inception to Saint Vincent de Paul and Blessed Louise Marillac. In 1617 there were only two branches with 52 members; now the number of branches spread over the world totals 1720 with a membership of many thousands. Their aim is to participate effectively in what has been called "The Apostolate of the Laity," paying special attention to the needs of women and children. The association is not merely philanthropic; built up on the basis of Catholic charity, in all its works it seeks to benefit both body and soul of those for whom it labors, the good works being regarded as a means of the personal sanctification of its members. In England the Ladies of Charity had special encouragement from Cardinal Vaughan, and under his guidance much excellent social work was inaugurated and is still carried on: e.g., settlement work; visiting the poor in their homes, hospitals, and infirmaries; organization of girls' clubs; retreats; teaching Catholic doctrine to children who attend non-Catholic schools; after-care committee work. The associates are either active or honorary; the former personally engage in some form of the active works of the society; the latter contribute financial aid; both participate equally in the spiritual favors granted to the association. In New York, they are connected with the Catholic Charities; 1997 members.

New Catholic Dictionary

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