The institute was founded in San Antonio in 1869, as a sister house of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Galveston, Texas. In 1869, Bishop Dubuis chose three from the Galveston community, Sister St. Madeleine Chollet, Sister St. Pierre Cinquin, and Sister Agnes Buisson to begin a new house in San Antonio and open the first hospital in the area. He named Mother St. Madeleine superior of the new community. Three years later, he appointed Mother St. Pierre Cinquin as her successor, and she remained in office until her death almost twenty years later. On 31 March 1869, Bishop C.M. Dubuis sent from Galveston a colony of these sisters to found a convent at San Antonio; in 1870, he erected this new community into an independent centre, on the occasion of vesting the first postulants admitted into the San Antonio novitiate.
Sisters Madeleine Chollet, Pierre Cinquin and Agnes Buisson came to help the people of San Antonio who were being ravaged by a severe cholera epidemic. It was just after the Civil War and San Antonio had a population of 12,000; however, there were no public hospitals. When the three Sisters arrived, they founded the institute of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. They also founded San Antonio’s first public hospital, known today as Christus Santa Rosa Hospital.
Previous to 1874, the sisters had been solely occupied in caring for the sick, the aged, and orphans, but following the counsel of Rt. Rev. A.D. Pellicer, first Bishop of San Antonio, they began to engage in educational work. In 1881, the Sisters founded the Incarnate Word Academy, known today as the University of the Incarnate Word.
In 1885 the Sisters opened a school in Saltillo, Mexico.
By 1891 the Sisters had founded St. Joseph’s Infirmary in Fort Worth, Texas. They also administered seven railroad hospitals scattered throughout Texas, Missouri, Iowa, and New Mexico.
They are involved in ministries in health care (as part of CHRISTUS Health), education, care for the elderly and social justice.
The Village at Incarnate Word is a not-for-profit corporation, established by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio in 1988, to provide a retirement community for people of all faiths.
The sisters work in United States, Mexico, Peru, and Zambia.