Father Silviano Carrillo was a parish priest in Jalisco, Mexico who dreamed of creating a Catholic school at a time when regional governments in Mexico had banned the church from the educational system. Then, in 1901, a thief broke into his church, el Templo del Sagrado Corazon, and stole consecrated hosts. Convinced that the crime was an act of ignorance, he was determined to bring God’s word to the people of his village. On November, 25, 1904, he founded The Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament – in Spanish, Siervas de Jesus Sacramentado, or SJS – to combat that ignorance. The sisters had a dual mission: daily adoration of the Holy Eucharist and the religious education of children and youth.
The early years were filled with hardships. The sisters were expelled from their convents, their schools were ransacked and destroyed and several sisters were sent to prison because they refused to halt their work. Forced into hiding, Fr. Carrillo continued to lead the community. In 1916, the sisters moved their mother house to Guadalajara. In 1921, Fr. Carrillo was named the fifth bishop of Sinaloa by Pope Benedict XV; he died later that year. But the order continued to grow and eventually spread throughout the state of Jalisco and into other parts of Mexico. In spite of continued religious persecution, the order expanded its ministry to the United States, sending sisters to Chicago and Oklahoma City in 1924.
Two years later, the sisters moved to California to establish their first school in the United States, and opened their doors in Calexico in 1927 to students in kindergarten through the third grade. Two additional schools opened in San Diego and Los Angeles in 1929, expanding the curriculum to include music, drawing, painting, sewing and arts and crafts as well as religious education. Additional schools soon followed in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Ysidro and Imperial Valley.
Today, The Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament are active in the United States in the Dioceses of Sacramento, Monterey, Fresno, San Diego and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Province of the Immaculate Conception–the order’s first province outside of Mexico–was established as a canonical entity in 2006 with headquarters in Bonita, California. Five of the nine religious communities in California are located in the Diocese of San Diego where the sisters have served more than 150,000 students for more than 85 years. The Sister Servants’ worldwide community is also present in 71 Catholic schools in 15 states in México and in two schools in Guatemala, one in Chile and a large mission in Peru.
The challenge continues today. Now more than ever, the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament continue to prepare students to know and love Jesus in the Eucharist, to live the gospel values and to help build a better world for all.