Congregation of the Holy Faith Sisters

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History of the Holy Faith Sisters

The Holy Faith Sisters were founded by a Waterford woman, Margaret Aylward. She was an active member of the Ladies of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Dublin in the mid nineteenth century. 

The spirit of St Vincent de Paul which permeated the association made a deep impression on Margaret.  The knowledge and expertise she acquired through her ministry to the poor as a Lady of Charity helped her in the founding of the Holy Faith congregation and its future mission. Fr John Gowan CM, a Vincentian priest guided and supported Margaret and trained and formed the Sisters in the early years of the congregation. 

Margaret founded St. Brigid’s Orphanage, a non-residential but long-term family care system which provided fosterage for destitute children who were in danger of loss of faith.  Schools were later established to provide Catholic education for the poorest children. To provide long term stability for these works and to encourage the spiritual development of her helpers, Margaret Aylward founded the congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Faith in 1867.

In the following years, the schools grew as did the membership of the congregation. Eventually Sisters established schools in Trinidad, in the West Indies, in the United States, New Zealand and Australia. We also spend some years in Mexico, Peru, and American Samoa. Our most recent project was the setting up of a primary school in Riwoto in South Sudan, one of the poorest countries in the world. This school, developed in co-operation with the Kiltegan Fathers, is now administered by a congregation of African Sisters. 

Our foundress Margaret Aylward said: 

“Our chief care is for the poor and our principal concern the defence of the faith.”

Our Work Today

In the 21st century, this founding mission is lived out through our three priority areas: Faith Development, Support for Struggling People, & Care for the Planet.

  • The Margaret Aylward Centre for Faith and Dialogue, in Glasnevin, Dublin, offers faith development courses and a variety of human development resources, retreats, book clubs, webinars etc.
  • Religious education continues to be a priority in our schools and several sisters in all regions and areas of the congregation are very actively involved in parish work and development.
  • Credo Foundation for Justice in Trinidad, West Indies provides accommodation, education, and training for homeless children.
  • We are actively involved with the work of Solidarity with South Sudan, an inter-congregational project with operates a training college in Yambio, South Sudan.
  • We continue to offer financial support to the primary school in Riwoto, South Sudan.
  • The Margaret Aylward Centre in California operates a food bank and provides citizen education for migrants.
  • The congregation has achieved recognition as an Eco Congregation, we have developed a bio-diversity garden in the grounds of our house in Glasnevin and a sister is working full time in ecology and conservation.

Fr. Gowan CM instilled in the sisters the Vincentian values of Humility, Simplicity, Faith and Charity.  These values are still lived out and treasured by Holy Faith Sisters. We welcome opportunities for new and on-going collaboration among the branches of the Vincentian Family. The words of Fr Tomaz Mavric CM, Father General of the Vincentian Fathers, encourage us, “nothing that can be done together should be done alone”.


+353 (0)1 837 1426


Aylward House Holy Faith Convent, Glasnevin Dublin 11.

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