The Office of Advancement

The Office of Advancement supports the St. Mary’s mission through relationship building, communication, and the acquisition of financial resources for our school and our girls.

St. Mary’s mission for its students is that they become confident, independent, and responsible leaders of our community. Our charge is to provide the resources our students need to reach their individual potential. Contributions from the St. Mary’s community allow us to provide those things which are vitally important to the education of our students. Thank you for joining other parents, alumnae, grandparents, parents of alumnae, and friends of the School in our tradition of financial support by making a generous gift today.

Celebrating Women's History Month

Week One: Sister Constance

As a St. Mary's alumna, you know that a superior education enables smart, strong women to make history. Over the next five Wednesdays, we hope you will join us in celebrating women who have made history at St. Mary's, in Memphis, and beyond. And who better to start with than our own Sister Constance?

Sister Constance was born Caroline Louise Darling in Medway, Massachusetts in 1846. She was a talented artist, an able linguist, and "possessed of charm which might have adorned the most brilliant social circle." Against her Unitarian family's wishes, she joined the Order of St. Mary in New York City. In 1872, after much urging from the Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee, it was agreed that the Sisters of St. Mary would take over the operation of St. Mary's School for Girls in Memphis. The next year, during a yellow fever outbreak, Sister Constance was dispatched south as the Sister Superior. She was 28 years old.

Over the next five years, the Sisters taught English, Mathematics, Science and Classics, along with Elocution, Music and Art to both boarding and day students. Life was not easy for Constance, Thecla, Hughetta, Amelia or the other Sisters. They endured rudimentary living conditions and outbreaks of various diseases, but they were dedicated to their work and to their students. They believed that "St. Mary's was probably the best church school in the southern states."

In the summer of 1878, the second yellow fever epidemic struck, and 35,000 Memphians fled the city in panic. Constance and her companions remained with the 20,000 left behind, "to feed the hungry, provide for the...sick, to minister to the dying, to bury the dead, to take immediate care of the children who are made orphans by the ravages of the fever," regardless of race or social status. Their decision to do so cost Sister Constance, Sister Thecla, Sister Ruth and Sister Frances their lives.

In 1981, the "Martyrs of Memphis" were added to the Episcopal Church's Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and every September 9 their sacrifices are commemorated throughout the Anglican Communion. Constance and her companions were the beginning of a legacy of St. Mary's women - of which you are a part - who have the confidence to do what is necessary, the compassion to respond to the needs of others, and the courage to choose their own paths.

Curiosity, confidence, compassion, courage. That's what we've been doing since 1847.

Help Strong Women Continue to Make History - Give to St. Mary's