In 1843, Father De Smet, a Jesuit missionary, requested Belgian sisters to help in his mission in Oregon. The wilderness of Oregon was still pioneer land populated by Clatsop Indians, fur traders, farmers and lumber men. The six Sisters who volunteered to go to Oregon were Sisters Loyola Duquenne, Marie-Cornelia Neujean, Marie Catherine Cabareaux, Marie-Aloysia Neujean, Norbertine Verreux and Marie-Albine Gobert.
Setting foot on Oregon soil in August 1844, the Sisters saw the need for a boarding school for the daughters of the settlers, as well as a day school and orphanage for the Indians. Two schools were built and classes began. In 1848, a second boarding school was opened in Oregon City.
With the discovery of gold in California in 1849, much of Oregon’s male population of Oregon headed for the mines. Many of the Clatsop mothers and children returned to their tribes and it became increasingly difficult for the Sisters to maintain the Oregon missions. In 1853, the two foundations in Oregon were legally closed and the Sisters moved to San Jose, California.