Holy Angels is a private, nonprofit corporation
that provides innovative programs and services for its residents
– children and adults with varying degrees of mental
retardation, some of whom have physical disabilities and are
History: Maria to the Present
Holy Angels is a remarkable place and the story of its beginning is remarkable as well. It is the story of Maria. Doctors did not expect the baby girl to live long beyond her
December 20, 1955, birth. She was born medically fragile,
with multiple disabilities. If she lived, the doctors said,
the baby would have serious medical problems, severe mental
retardation and physical disabilities.
Her young mother sought help from the Sisters of Mercy who
operated a day care center under the direction of Sister Marie
Patrice Manley. On a cold January in 1956, the young mother, a worker
in one of the textile mills in Belmont, began to bring her
fragile child to Sr. Patrice. When the baby became seriously
ill, the mother asked the sisters to care for her child.
Each sister took turns caring for the infant who was named,
Maria. She began to thrive with their attention and lots of
medical care. She grew and developed far better than expected as you can see from the photo of Maria with Mother MaryBenignus Hoban, who co-founded Holy Angels, at left.
Soon, other parents of children with multiple disabilities
and mental retardation asked the Sisters of Mercy for help.
The sisters realized that there was truly a need for a home that offered loving compassionate care for children with special needs. Always willing to answer God's call, the Sisters set up a home, which eventually became Holy Angels.
Mother Benignus, affectionately called Mother B, called
the children who came to live there, “God’s innocents.”
Mother B served as president of Holy Angels until 1997. She died on December 30, 2000 at the age of 94.
The late Kays Gary, a North Carolina newspaper columnist,
wrote about Maria, the Sisters of Mercy and the other children.
His friend, syndicated columnist, Jim Bishop, wrote stories,
too. These articles touched the hearts of people throughout the country who demonstrated their love for Holy Angels and its residents through gifts of financial support and prayers.
Then on October 2, 1961 – the Feast of the Guardian
Angels – a new wing was formally dedicated to the compassionate care,
education and development of children with mental retardation
and other disabilities. What until then had been called “the
Nursery” became Holy Angels. Later, in 1972, the newly
built Main Center, now the Morrow Center, opened.