Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy (1833-1907), an Irish immigrant and educator, came to Texas with her husband John B. Murphy in 1849 and settled in Corpus Christi where she operated "Mrs. Murphy's Hospital for the Poor." After the death of her husband, she relocated to San Antonio and opened the St. Peter Claver School and Church for African Americans in 1888 at Live Oak and Nolan Streets on the city's east side.
The school became the first private institution dedicated to educating African-American children in Texas and was named for the Jesuit saint who had worked with slaves. Prejudice and tension contributed to staffing shortages at the school, so Mary Healy-Murphy began a religious order, the Sisters of the Holy Ghost (later Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate) to continue the school's mission.
St. Peter Claver School developed a reputation for academic excellence and continued to grow into the 20th century. In 1970 it was reorganized as the Healy-Murphy Center and its mission broadened to serve pregnant teenagers, dropouts and other youth in crisis. Today the organization continues to operate at the same location and the area is a local historic district.
"Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy" and "Healy-Murphy Center" by Sister Bernice Mallory, S.H.Sp. Excerpted from the Handbook of Texas Online - www.tshaonline.org