Picture above from our clipping archive.
In 1968, social worker Rose Mary Badami founded Magnificat House in response to the abrupt closure of most state-supported mental institutions, which seriously increased the number of homeless individuals on Houston streets. Rose Mary raised money privately to purchase a house in a depressed Midtown neighborhood, recruited volunteers to rehab it to code, then invited vulnerable, street-bound women to live and work together in community, mutually supportive and sharing common goals.
The pilot home thrived and we became Magnificat Houses, Inc., as we added homes for women, men and families and, in 1972, a downtown soup kitchen to serve the destitute and chronic street populations. Overhead was kept low through volunteer and guest-volunteer help in running the organization. Over the years, various orders of Catholic priests and nuns joined Magnificat’s support staff, sharing the nondenominational commitment to practice the Corporal Works of Mercy.
Rose Mary’s calling to serve the homeless and helpless sprang from growing up during the Great Depression in Denison, Texas, where homeless strangers came to her grandmother’s door and were always served with dignity at the family table. In 1954 Rose Mary earned a bachelor's degree in Sociology with certification in Special Education from the University of St. Thomas, then taught at the Harris County School for the Retarded, joined the Harris County Department of Public Welfare as a social worker, and served pre-delinquent girls at the Convent of the Good Shepherd. Before founding Magnificat, she honed her vision by establishing Sancta Maria Hostel for displaced mentally ill women, in partnership with friends in the Legion of Mary.
In 1970, the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association co-published a comprehensive study of Magnificat Houses with high praise for Rose Mary’s unique model. Her work has since been recognized by Houston mayors, civic leaders and religious organizations of many denominations. She received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of St. Thomas in 1986.
Rose Mary served as executive director of Magnificat Houses from 1968-2014, then worked with filmmaker Casey Kelly to create "The Magnificat Houses Story, produced as a book in 2018 to celebrate our first 50 years. At 95, our founder has helped with the 50th Anniversary retrospective book for publication in 2018.