A convent is a community of women religious, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Convent life has changed dramatically since the early days of Catholic history in the United States.
Some of the earliest convents in America were established by French sisters fleeing religious persecution in their home country. These women were often sent to the New World by their bishops with the hope that they would be able to establish religious communities and spread the gospel to Native Americans and settlers.
Although convents were often established with the intention of serving a specific population, over time many of them shifted their focus to providing education and health care services. In fact, many of the early Catholic schools and hospitals in the United States were founded by women religious.
As the number of convents in the United States grew, so did the number of religious orders. By the mid-19th century, there were more than 100 different orders of women religious in America. Today, that number has decreased significantly, but there are still a number of active convents across the country.
While the role of convents has changed over time, the sisters who live in them continue to dedicate their lives to prayer, service, and helping those in need.