The Institute of the Religious Teachers Filippini was founded by Lucy Filippini and Mark Anthony Barbarigo, who had much in common; both were interested not only in education, but also in the social apostolate. Poverty was foremost among the many cultural and socio-economic problems that existed in Italy in 1692. It was a period of regression, of epidemics, of wars and calamities. A new era was rushing in, overcoming the old, and a strong Christian-catholic culture would come forth and face the innovations of both religious and social life.
With ecumenical and prophetic discernment, Cardinal Barbarigo and Lucy Filippini fulfilled their generous, ardent and profound mission of faith and charity. The schools promoted the dignity of womanhood and helped influence a healthy family life. Cardinal Barbarigo saw the ever-growing need for Catholic education and knew that women would be the instrument to transmit culture and tradition. Besides teaching Christian doctrine, she embarked on a revolutionary innovation - reading and writing for the poor! She impressed her own style and methodology on the schools and, with the Cardinal, prepared the first nucleus of Teachers.
To complement the work of the schools, Lucy conducted classes for women in order to strengthen their faith, to encourage them to pray, and to perform good works. Teachers were also prepared to minister to the needs of the poor and the sick, bringing them physical relief and spiritual strength.
The social apostolate was an extension of the classroom. History records the dynamic response a rebirth of Christian living and value-centered education. Among the characteristics of the Catholic Church in the United States in the twentieth century have been the extraordinary development of the Catholic school system and the increasing place of prominence of the Italian-American community in American Catholic life. In examining the roots and causes of this growth, one cannot ignore the work of education begun by Lucy Filippini under the guidance of Cardinal Barbarigo in Montefiascone, a small, seventeenth century town in Italy. Two hundred years later, Sister Ninetta Ionata, under the direction of Archbishop Walsh, was responsible for much of the impressive contribution of Italian-American Catholics to the life of the Church in New Jersey.
Through their role of evangelization, the Religious Teachers Filippini helped preserve Catholic values among the Italian immigrants. In schools throughout the world, one still finds their methods at the basis of education - that same imprint of goodness, meekness, fervor, and relationship to the times. They are accomplishments that will live on through a spiritual dimension in the mystical Body of the Church.