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 ​​How did Casa Cornelia

Law Center get its name? 

The mission and spirit of Casa Cornelia is rooted in the tradition of service of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and that of the Society's founder, Cornelia Connelly. She believed that God has chosen men and women in every age to reveal God's love and to make known the reality of God's saving presence through their service to others. In her spirit and memory, Casa Cornelia Law Center conducts its work. While Casa Cornelia is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, it remains a sponsored ministry of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. Casa Cornelia continues to carry out Cornelia Connelly's belief in meeting the needs of the age with actions, not words.

Our History


Casa Cornelia Law Center was founded when the leadership of the American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (a community of religious sisters in the Roman Catholic tradition) requested that Ann M. Durst, a member of the Society and an attorney, explore the possibility of founding Casa Cornelia as a contemporary mission serving those in need throughout the southwest of the United States of America.  

Sister Ann conducted a study along the Mexican-American border to determine the need for legal services among the immigrant community. She traveled to Brownsville, TX, El Paso, TX, Albuquerque, NM, Tucson, AZ and San Diego, CA. It became clear to her that San Diego, the busiest land border crossing in the world, was the place to begin. On August 1, 1992, she was joined by Mary Wayne Gradon from the European Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and they signed the lease that made Casa Cornelia a reality in San Diego, California.

Today, the need for Casa Cornelia’s pro bono legal services remains. Each year there are more children crossing the San Diego/Tijuana border.  Victims of domestic violence continue to contact Casa Cornelia seeking safety for themselves and their children. And, as conflict worldwide evolves, so do the number of asylum seekers pursuing freedom from persecution. We hope to alleviate these injustices using our training as lawyers and our passion for serving those in need.  ​​