Mary Starr

The Beginning

In 1869, Mary Caroline Dannat Starr’s heart opened wide to the “cry of the children” living on the streets of New York City. Even as she sought deepening spirituality to cope with vast suffering and multiple tragedies in her life as child, wife and mother, she gathered women friends to help respond to the needs of abandoned, neglected and abused girls and their families.

With Monsignor Thomas Preston supporting Mary Starr's spiritual journey, in 1870, she created the Association for Befriending Children. She also opened the House of the Holy Family in lower Manhattan, a residence with outreach services providing education and employment preparation. It's  home-like environment offered hundreds of immigrant children and their families the support they needed to to heal and grow, and move on into independent and productive lives. The founding mission had begun. A few years later, on July 2, 1886, a new religious institute, the Sisters of the  Divine Compassion (RDCs), was officially founded. Mary Caroline Dannat Starr, names Mother Mary Veronica, became its first General Superior. The mission of compassion would continue.