Sisters of the Daughters of Wisdom feed children during an evening meal. (1946 file photo)

The world was at war when a downtown Norfolk building that already had served children for more than a century as a school for girls was re-dedicated on Dec. 8, 1944, for a new purpose. “St. Mary’s Infant Home will provide shelter for the little boys and girls who cannot find it elsewhere,” Bishop Peter I. Ireton, co-adjutor bishop of Richmond, said during the ceremony, according to news accounts.

At first, St. Mary’s was a home for young children with no homes of their own or who needed a temporary place to stay while their mothers worked in war plants. The Daughters of Wisdom arrived at the Home to begin taking care of the children in 1946.

Over the years, the Home evolved into a home for children and young adults with severe disabilities, changing its name and moving into a new facility in the 1960s and then into its current, state-of-the-art building in 2005. Starting in December 2009 and continuing throughout 2010, St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children will be celebrating its 65th anniversary in a number of ways, including vintage-themed holiday decorations, displays of historical items, billboard advertisements in the Norfolk area and an anniversary dinner on March 24, 2010. Be sure to keep checking our website and our newsletter, Guardian, for details – and thank you for supporting the children and young adults who call St. Mary’s “home.”

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