The congregation of St. Mary of Namur was founded in Namur Belgium after the French Revolution. Father Minsart, a religious of the Order of St. Bernard, was deeply troubled by the plight of young girls in his parish. With no resources or education, deep poverty forced them into the most menial of tasks and even prostitution. In 1819, he asked two young women to open a sewing workshop so that skills and basic education could be offered. With these humble beginnings, they established schools and academies in Belgium, and, in 1863, the first missionaries of the congregation were sent to the United States of America. The Sisters came to Texas in 1873, continuing the venture into unknown places.
Today the sisters are still educators and passionate supporters of non-violence, promoting the pursuit of peace and continuing their work in education, health care, prison ministries, immigration, and adult formation. The sisters maintain missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Cameroon, Tanzania, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
In 1961, Nolan Catholic High School began under the name Our Lady of Victory. The school opened with the accreditation and as a continuation of Our Lady of Victory Academy, although boys were now welcome. The Sisters of St. Mary provided the principal and staff for the girls’ side and the Brothers of Mary provided the principal and staff for the boys’ side.
The Sisters administered the girls division until the early 1970s when the school became co-educational. They continue to have a presence in the school and on the NCHS Board to ensure that their part in the spiritual origins of our school remains a constant influence in the life of our students. Their collaboration with the Marianists is a clear example of how two congregations with similar charisms can share in an educational mission that ultimately benefits the entire Church.