The Sisters of the Humility of Mary became a congregation in 1854 in rural France when pastor, Fr. John Joseph Begel, asked a pious parishioner to gather together women who would be willing to teach the children of the poor. Since that time, responding to the educational needs of the people around them, especially the poor, has been a priority of the community.


Sister Cathleen Real gives educational presentations about climate change.In 1969, the CHM community reaffirmed its commitment to apostolic service in the core areas of health, education and welfare but added that it would “include diverse and continually changing works which would be consonant with the needs of the times.” Service to those who want and need to learn will always be a priority for the Congregation of the Humility of Mary.

In the 1960s, CHMs began to explore their own gifts and talents, many becoming national leaders, experts and consultants in a variety of educational fields:

  • At the Center for International Resources, Inc., (Cirimex) in Guadalajara, Mexico, Sr. Kevin Bissell, PhD, and Sr. Caridad Inda, PhD, have perfected a culturally-sensitive approach to Spanish language learning for “confidence professionals” who must be fluent in Spanish in order to speak with clients directly.
  • Sr. Cathleen Real received training through The Climate Project and provided education on climate change for many years.
  • Sr. Elizabeth Thoman pioneered the field of media literacy education with Media&Values magazine and founded the Center for Media Literacy.
  • CHM associate Diane Schlachter, PhD, is a nationally known organizational development specialist, helping religious, educational and nonprofit organizations with skills of collaboration and strategic planning.


Sister Nancy Schwieters is a Job Connect Computer Lab Mentor at Humility of Mary Shelter.Today few CHMs are in the formal day to day classroom but education remains a major priority of the community. Indeed almost every form of contemporary ministry involves some educational component:

  • Humility of Mary Housing staff teach life planning and financial skills for single parent clients.
  • At Humility of Mary Shelter volunteers teach computer and job searching skills and provide GED tutoring.
  • Sisters serve as community outreach workers teaching gardening and nutrition.
  • Some sisters are involved in patient education – how the body works, the impact of medications, the mind/body connection.
  • Religious educators prepare children for the sacraments, conduct scripture study groups, and teach meditation and prayer.
  • At the grassroots level, many sisters are again involved in the education of immigrants – tutoring them in life skills and promoting English language fluency.