On November 1, 1833, the original group, while still in Ireland, made an act of consecration as the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin. In this act, this band of women took one more step in becoming a formal community of women religious sisters within the Roman Catholic tradition. Mary Frances Clarke was named mother superior. For the next ten years, the sisters continued to teach as well as gain new members. In 1843, Bishop Matthias Loras of the Diocese of Dubuque, Iowa, who had been visiting Philadelphia, invited the sisters to come teach in the Iowa Territory. So the pioneer BVMs, by then nineteen in number, moved to Dubuque, Iowa. They opened a new boarding school, St. Mary's Female Academy, which was the predecessor of the St. Raphael Cathedral school. They were the first women religious in the Territory and would soon open many additional schools. Since its beginning, the community has responded to the current needs of the day. There are currently sisters living in nineteen states, and in three foreign countries: Ghana, Ecuador, and Guatemala. Ministries of the sisters include working as hospital, hospice, and prison chaplains, working with those with addictions, people with AIDS, pastoral service, spiritual direction, counseling, and, of course, education. November 1, 2007 was a year of jubilee to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The theme of the year was “Crossing the Waters, Currents of Hope: Celebrating 175 years of BVM Presence and Partnership.