In 1874, Father Bedard, a young priest from Montreal founded a parish dedicated to Notre Dame de Lourdes in Fall River, MA. Ten years later, the parish contained more than a thousand Canadian families. Mother St. Cyril, Provincial of Canada followed the development of this work with deep interest. She saw the necessity and realized that there was a need for bilingual schools where religion could be taught. She journeyed to Fall River to explore this possibility and realized that this was a vast field of apostolate for the sisters.
In August, 1877, three religious arrived in Fall River, MA. Later, seven more sisters joined the community and construction on a convent was begun immediately.
In September, classes were held in the basement of the church. A great number of pupils were enrolled: 200 day students; 84 workers in the evening courses; and 36 music students.
The original convent quickly became too crowded. In May 1887, the Religious of Jesus and Mary decided to build a new school that would accommodate the increasing enrollment. When Jesus Mary Academy was completed, it was heralded as one of the most beautiful buildings of the city. The Academy also earned a reputation for providing an outstanding education.
The sisters also took charge of the large parish school which prospered and soon numbered 1,400 boys and girls.