In 1818, Duchesne left France for the US with 4 other nuns to help DuBourg educate Native Americans in the US. Eight weeks later after an intense voyage, Duchesne and her team landed in New Orleans then headed to St. Louis. DuBourg found a spot for the team to settle in St. Charles, MO. In August 1818, Duchesne and her team opened the first free school west of the Mississippi. After a hard winter Bishop DuBourg found land closer to St. Louis in Florissant, MO.
1819: The nuns moved into the Florissant convent that doubled as the day
school & boarding school for girls
1820: Opened Novitiate for girls to study to become nuns. The students
occupied the third story of the convent
1821: Cornerstone of existing church laid
Missouri becomes a state
1825: Native American school for girls is opened
1827: Father De Smet ordained at the Shrine
1831: Native American school for girls is closed due to lack of funding and the
displacement of Native Americans
1836: Original St. Ferdinand Church burned
1840: Rectory added
1846: Society of Sacred Heart nuns leave St. Ferdinand, much to Duchesne's
dismay to keep it open
During Duchesne's time at Florissant, her team opened 5 additional schools in MO and LA. The hope was that the boarding school and the community would fund the free schools since no government funding was available. This meant all schools would see good years and very lean years depending on the community's success with business, crops, and the importance of girls' education at the time, even the good years were very lean.
The Society of the Sacred Heart, United States – Canada Province continues to work humbly to acknowledge their history with enslavement, To read more about the history and their commitment, please click the link below.