Rev. Larry Snyder, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, presented the Prioress of the Ursuline Sisters of New Orleans, Sister Carla Dolce, O.S.U., with a Centennial Medal for the order’s long history providing services to people in need, particularly women and children seeking shelter, education and nurturing in early America.

The medal was presented during an event commemorating the Bicentennial of the Ursuline Sisters’ providing services to those in need during the War of 1812. In his remarks, Rev. Snyder said, “Catholic Charities traces its roots back to 1727 when the French Ursuline Sisters opened an orphanage here on these very grounds.” He added, “Before this country was even founded, they were tirelessly giving of themselves to follow our Lord’s call to care for the widowed and the orphaned. It is my pleasure to honor them for their centuries of work forging a spirit of service and community.”

The history of the Ursuline order in the United States celebrates many firsts in its dedication to the poor and marginalized, including the first female pharmacist, first convent, first free school and first retreat center for ladies, first classes for female African-American slaves, free women of color and Native Americans. In the region, Ursuline provided the first center of social welfare in the Mississippi Valley, first boarding school in Louisiana and the first school of music in New Orleans.

The Centennial Medal, a symbol of Catholic Charities USA’s first 100 years, recognizes the valuable contributions of individuals and organizations to the reduction of poverty in the United States and the work that Catholic Charities staff and volunteers perform every day in service to the least among us.