Frances Ball, founder of the Irish Branch of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM) was born into a wealthy Dublin family on 9 January, 1794.
Frances was a daughter of John Ball and Mabel Clare Bennet. At the age of nine years, she was sent to school at the Bar Convent, York, conducted by the English Ladies of the IBVM. She remained there until the death of her father in 1808 and then spent time at home with her mother.
In 1814 Frances Ball returned to York and, at the request of the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Daniel Murray, was received into the Novitiate, to be trained as a religious of the IBVM so that she could make a foundation of the order in Ireland. There she received her religious training and made her profession in 1816, taking the name of Mary Teresa. In 1821 at the request of Dr Murray, she returned to Dublin with two novices to establish a convent and school there.
In 1822 she opened the first house of the Institute in Ireland, Rathfarnham House, four miles from Dublin. She called it “Loretto House”, after the shrine in Italy where Mary Ward used to pray. The “Loretto” name was used for all subsequent foundations that came from Ireland resulting in the Sisters of the Irish Branch of the IBVM being popularly known as “Loreto Sisters” (the spelling changed at the end of the nineteenth century).
Teresa Ball was a woman of deep spirituality and significant administrative ability. Much of her energies were devoted to the establishment of many convent schools in Ireland and in India (1842), Mauritius (1844), Gibraltar (1845), Canada (1847) and England (1851). She died at Loreto, Dalkey, Ireland, on May 19th, 1861.
Feature Image: Novices, Nun and Child at a Teresa Ball’s Grave Rathfarnham | Rathfarnham and grounds.
Body Image: Teresa Ball ibvm.