The Association of Catholic Women
This Association was the first charitable institution conceived and founded in the diocese of Lavanthal by Bishop Anton Martin Slomsek. The historian Fr. Kovacic, Ph.D., in his work on Bishop Slomsek writes6:
In the ever growing city of Maribor, Slomsek noticed many abandoned children who were roaming the streets. Being a great educator who loved children, he was touched by the plight of these neglected young people, so he decided to knock on tender maternal hearts to organize some shelter for these children. At the conclusion of a mission held in Maribor an opportune moment presented itself. A group of women from the city came to thank him for the mission. On that occasion he asked them to take on the responsibility of establishing a charitable association which would have the task of caring for poor young girls.
The women agreed to the request of Bishop Slomsek, and on April 7, 1860, The Association of Catholic Women was established.7 This association immediately began to take care of poor young girls, in a somewhat limited manner. After the death of Bishop Slomsek it was instrumental in realizing the arrival of the School Sisters in Maribor.
In 1862 Bishop Slomsek went to Rome for an audience with Pope Pius IX. Among other things, the Holy Father recommended that he promote and care for educational institutes within his diocese as much as he could. In the above cited work Dr. Kovacic writes what Bishop Slomsek did upon his return8:
On the vigil of the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Bishop Slomsek invited the members of the Association of Catholic Women and gave them the Pope’s blessing. On that occasion, in hope that these women would carry it forward, he also conveyed the Holy Father’s desire that an educational institute be established in Maribor. In this way the seed was planted and from this seed the Institute of School Sisters had its beginnings and became a flourishing tree, so to say, planted by Bishop Slomsek.