The first Sisters of Charity arrived in New Mexico Territory in 1865 from Cincinnati at the request of Bishop Lamy with the mission of serving all people regardless of race, religion or ability to pay. Hundreds of sisters followed. They established some of the most significant institutions of the state including St. Vincent Hospital & Orphanage and St. Elizabeth Shelter for the Homeless in Santa Fe.
Sisters Pauline Leo and Vincent O’Keefe, Civil War nurses, with Sisters Theodosia Farn and Catherine Mallon arrived in Santa Fe in 1865. Sister Mary de Sales Deheney, an Irish immigrant with an eighth-grade education, became the first woman doctor licensed in the Territory. Sister Blandina Segale, an Italian immigrant, authored At the End of the Santa Fe Trail. Hermana Dolores Chavez de Gutierrez, a New Mexico territory native, became a benefactor of St. Vincent Hospital and Orphanage.