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Moved by pity for prostitutes, Father Eudes at first attempted to unite the penitent among them and place them under the care of good and zealous women, but he soon became convinced that the only way of dealing with them was to found a congregation of holy women, who would bind themselves by vow to work for their reformation. Three Visitation nuns came to his aid temporarily, and, in 1644, a house was opened at Caen under the title of Our Lady of Charity. Other ladies joined them, and, in 1651, the Bishop of Bayeux gave the institute his approbation. In 1664 a Bull of approbation was obtained from Pope Alexander VII. That same year a house was opened at Rennes, and the institute began to spread. When the French Revolution broke out there were seven communities of the order in France. The convent at Tours influenced Mary Euphrasia Pelletier who in 1829 established the Good Shepherd Sisters.
On July 8, 1855, Sister Jerome Tourneux of Rennes, France, established the first Foundation in North America in Buffalo, New York, and thus began the spread of the Mission of Our Lady of Charity in the United States, Canada and Mexico. On March 21, 1979, the North American Union Sisters of Our Lady of Charity received its approval from the Holy See.
In Ireland they had two houses at Dublin. In Ireland, the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Refuge was one of four congregations involved in the controversial "Magdalen laundries". A spokesperson for the congregation said, "It is with sorrow and sadness that we recognise that for many of those who spoke to the inquiry that their time in a refuge is associated with anxiety, distress, loneliness, isolation, pain and confusion and much more." 
In France they had seventeen houses: one each at Caen, Saint-Brieuc, Rennes, La Rochelle, Paris, Versailles, Nantes, Lyon, Valence, Toulouse, Le Mans, Blois, Montauban, Besançon, Valognes, and two at Marseilles; in Italy, one at Loreto; and in Spain, one at Bilbao; and in Austria.
All the houses of this order are independent of each other, and each has its own novitiate, but the mother-house is still at Caen. The nuns wear a white habit and a large silver cross on the breast. To the three ordinary religious vows they add a fourth, viz., to devote themselves to the reformation of the fallen. The novitiate lasts two years.
In North America, they are located in: Hamburg & Newburgh, NY; Erie & Pittsburgh, PA; Wheeling, WV; & El Paso, TX; Carrollton, OH; Green Bay, WI; San Diego, CA; and Mexico & Canada.
Their primary apostolate is to work with “women in need.” Ministries include: counseling, serving in parishes, counseling troubled teenage girls, day care for children and adults, rehabilitation and nursing care for the ill and elderly, people with AIDS, teaching in schools and religious education programs.