God works in mysterious ways. Bishop Tadeo Amat, Bishop of Monterey and Los Angeles, was on his way to Vatican Council I; en route to Rome, he stopped in his native Barcelona where he heard of all of the work the IHM’s were doing in Spain. Arriving at the First Vatican Council, he spoke with Bishop Anthony Mary Claret who strongly urged Bishop Amat to invite the Sisters to California. Bishop Amat contacted Fr. Joaquin Masmitjá, and he asked for volunteers as the Sisters would not be able to return to their native country. Ten Sisters, sent with Fr. Masmitjá's blessing, left by boat on August 2, 1871, heading to California in order to establish schools in the mission diocese in America. Father Founder wrote the Sisters often, giving them encouragement and advice.
On April 26, 1924, the daughter house of the Spanish community became a pontifical institute, separate from the Spanish motherhouse. The distance (before air mail, e-mail and faxes), which made communication difficult, was the reason for this separation. At that time, there were 100 professed Sisters in California. Centered in Los Angeles, the Sisters served up and down the coast of California in elementary and secondary schools as well as in their own college, Immaculate Heart College. Soon they expanded into Texas and Arizona. In the 1950s, the Sisters branched out into health care and retreat work. By the 1960s, there were 600 professed Sisters in 68 elementary schools, 11 high schools, one college, and two hospitals.
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