Our Roots, Our History

The Vatican Council II (1962-1965) called for renewal of the Catholic Church and, in particular, asked both men’s and women’s religious communities around the world to renew and adapt to the signs of the times. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, centered in Los Angeles, CA, engaged in study of the Council documents and benefited from hearing from eminent theologians who were invited to speak to the Sisters about the meaning of the documents and living out the call to renewal.

The IHM Community sought to renew its religious spirit by making adaptations in response to the needs of the times and in the light of their mission. Gradually as the disagreement with Church officials became increasingly difficult and led to an impasse, the IHMs decided to form an independent community, without canonical status, yet still dedicated to the Decrees they had promulgated in 1968.

With the dispensation from vows and embracing their lay status came the involuntary withdrawal of IHMs from service to the Los Angeles Archdiocesan schools in 1968. Community members in other dioceses continued to teach in parochial elementary and high schools. Several Community institutions became separate non-profit corporations, including Immaculate Heart College, Immaculate Heart High School, Queen of the Valley Hospital, and La Casa de Maria Retreat Center. The Community re-incorporated under its new name, Immaculate Heart Community, as a public benefit corporation in the state of California in 1970.

At the same time, a small group of Sisters chose to stay in canonical status, and they still exist today as the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.


The story of the Immaculate Heart Community today is a celebration of heart, soul, and integrity. In the 1970s, the Community made an historic transformation from its roots as a Roman Catholic religious community to become an inclusive, ecumenical “community without walls” made up of women and men, single and married without regard to sexual orientation, and from several Christian denominations. Members come from many fields including education, social work, law, parish ministry, the arts, healthcare, and administration of public and non-profit organizations.

As a diverse and vibrant community, we are formed by insights from eco-feminist and justice spiritualities, and we engage in communal decision making and listening to the Holy Spirit. IHM members seek to build bridges of reconciliation and community that requires an openness to hear the ways in which the vision of Community can be lived out faithfully as we fulfill our mission to live Gospel values and work for justice and peace.

As members of the Immaculate Heart Community, we support one another in our mission to advocate for the marginalized and to work for social and economic justice, for peace, and for the integrity of creation.