Laura Latorre Mendoza y Marave (17 August 1877 - 06 July 1969) was the Filipino Cofounder of the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart with the Servant of God Bishop Alfredo Verzosa of Lipa, which focuses on the missions of teaching and administration within the church, especially of Catholic catechesis. She is a probable Lipeno candidate for sainthood whose cause is already being investigated following the said Bishop.
Laura Latorre Mendoza was born on August 17, 1877 in the barrio of La Paz, in the town of Lipa. She was the third child of Pantaleon Mendoza and Maria Latorre. Though considered wealthy by those days' standards, the couple lived a simple and pious life.
As an adolescent, like many other affluent young ladies of Lipa, she was sent as an intern at the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion Concordia in Manila run by the Hijas de Caridad (more popularly known today as the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul). While with the Hijas de Caridad, she felt attracted to the religious life. But circumstances related to her health prevented her entry.
Back in Lipa, she was very active in the parish's catechetical ministry. Obeying the wishes of her relatives, she married Rufino Marave who was also very much involved in the catechetical apostolate.
Being childless and free from any maternal obligations, Doña Laura continued her work of catechizing in the parish. In 1919, Rufino died of cancer leaving the childless widow a good amount of material fortune.
Not long after the death of her husband, in the year 1920, Bishop Verzosa encouraged Laura to go to Bauan, Batangas to run a school there and to start a religious congregation of sisters. Laura, together with 5 other pious ladies from Lipa heeded the Bishop's invitation and set for Bauan to start the Colegio de Sta. Teresa de Jesus.
The teachers lived in community and followed a regular schedule and Doña Laura, who from then on had started to be addressed as Madre Laura, directed the "sisters" in their activities. On May 1, 1923, after being able to secure permission from the Holy See, Bishop Verzosa promulgated the decree of the canonical erection of the "Congregacion de Maria de la Ensenanza Cristiana" as a religious institute for women of diocesan right whose chief purpose is for the Christian instruction of the youth and the teaching of catechesis in distant barrios. In the same year, Bishop Verzosa invited the Augustinian sisters to provide formal religious formation to the newly established community.
In 1925, Madre Laura got sick and was advised to return to Lipa. Without a leader, the sisters in Bauan was later on dispersed. Some joined the Franciscans and the others the Augustinians.
In Lipa, Madre Laura again involved herself in teaching catechism and in helping the Franciscan sisters at St. Agnes Academy. In 1927, she moved to an old "kamalig" (warehouse) where she took care of young orphans. She named the house Asilo de Sagrado Corazon de Jesus. Later on, three young catechists from barrio Lodlod were attracted to her work and volunteered to assist her in her mission of catechesis.
Madre Laura died on July 6, 1969, after 46 years in religious life. She left behind a community of 23 sisters who continued her mission of catechesis up to the present.