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A Look Back


The roots of the University were firmly planted in 1869 when three French-born religious women arrived in San Antonio from Galveston to establish the first civilian hospital in the area, the Santa Rosa Infirmary, which is today known as CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health Care.

The three had first come to Texas after the Civil War at the invitation of Bishop Claude Dubuis to care for those suffering from the ravages of cholera and yellow fever.

Upon arriving in Texas, the three started a new religious congregation, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, which currently has health care and other ministries in the United States, Mexico, Peru, Zambia, Ireland and Guatamala.

Early ventures in health care and also in the care of orphans, of which privately operated St. Peter-St. Joseph Children’s Home is still a legacy, rapidly led to the need for the education of those in their care, and elsewhere, and also the continued education of their own Sisters.  All of the ministries in health and education were formalized by State of Texas recognition in 1881, when Incarnate Word was founded as a center of higher learning for women.

The education of children in the inner city led to the formation of the Academy of the Incarnate Word which, by 1909 had become the College and Academy of the Incarnate Word and relocated to the sprawling acreage of land that had previously been the estate of San Antonio banker-philanthropist George Washington Brackenridge, located some three miles from the center of the city.  Incarnate Word now had a commitment to education from pre-school through graduate school. That rich tradition continues in the 21st century through the elementary and secondary school outreach of the Brainpower Connection, the management of Incarnate Word High School and St. Anthony Catholic High School, doctoral degrees in education and pharmacy, and more than 80 sister-school agreements for reciprocal education in over 30 countries.