Our History

The Our Lady of Victory Institutions are the evolution of a charitable venture begun by the Diocese of Buffalo in the 1850's as the Limestone Hill Institutions, which included a parish, an orphanage, and a protectory for young boys. Stretched thin by overwhelming demand, finances quickly became a major concern and within a few short years, the Institutions fell deep into debt.

Upon his arrival in February of 1882, the Institutions' new superintendent, Father Nelson Baker, learned of a debt which exceeded $56,000. Immediately, the former businessman emptied his personal savings and used his good name to keep creditors at bay. Still, the humble priest knew a long-term solution was needed if their work was to continue. Father Baker, who had begun his lifelong devotion to Our Lady of Victory after a trip to the Basilica of Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris in 1874, turned to his patroness for help.
His prayers were answered through the founding of the Association of Our Lady of Victory. Father Baker sent letters throughout the country asking the faithful for assistance with the dependent children in his care by joining the Association for 25 cents a year. Very quickly, his ingenious idea caught on, the debts were paid in full and the Institutions were poised to grow. By the turn of the century, the number of children receiving care at the Institutions had more than tripled, and the Orphanage and Protectory were expanded. In 1908, the Infant Home was added, followed by a Maternity and General Hospital. In 1926, the glorious Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica was finished and dedicated, the crowning jewel of Father Baker's "City of Charity."
The Association of Our Lady of Victory, Father Baker's pioneering fundraising program, is known today as OLV Charities, and offers numerous opportunities for spiritual growth and charitable giving. Funds raised by OLV Charities go to support the other arms of the Institutions, first and foremost, OLV Human Services. Our support of BVS provides critically-needed deficit funding that allows Father Baker's legacy of caring to continue.
Father Baker passed away in 1936, but his legacy of caring has continued, and his example of faith and charity continues to inspire and move people worldwide. His Cause for Canonization, first begun in 1987, has seen him named Servant of God by Pope John Paul II in 1987, and, most recently, Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011. It is hoped that soon a miracle will be found to elevate Father Baker to Blessed.