Passion for Mission

125 Years in the USA: 1895-2020

Era 4: 1970-2000 | Building Collaboration

Events of the mid-1960s renewed the collaborative energy that had always characterized Salvatorian life. Cloistered living had never been a comfortable fit for women enlivened by the apostolic spirit of Francis Mary of the Cross Jordan and Blessed Mary of the Apostles. By 1970, collaboration would become an overarching dynamic, and by the turn of the century, the sisters embraced interaction with lay co-workers, lay financial advisors, a growing Salvatorian Family and other religious communities.  As a result, the Salvatorian mission was more than ever, an expansive “WE” rather than the exclusive “property” of our vowed religious members.

Sponsorship relationships evolved at all institutions founded and served by Salvatorian Sisters.  In the course of 30 years, our sisters set up corporate boards and called on competent lay people to serve on them. We established core mission values and appointed sponsorship coordinators to instill those values in the mission of each institution. By 2000, it was clear: advancing the Salvatorian mission was a joint effort between vowed religious and trusted lay collaborators.

Concern for justice issues took on a collaborative face as well.  Feeding the hungry grew from the small “uncles” room at our motherhouse to engagement with Milwaukee’s St. Ben’s Meal Program and Cathedral Women’s Center.  Tackling systemic injustice, the Salvatorian Sisters joined forces with other religious entities to form the Milwaukee Justice and Peace Center.  With assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Salvatorian Sisters built Hadley Terrace Senior Apartments to ensure safe, affordable housing for elders from the neighborhood of our former motherhouse.

During this same time the Salvatorian Family became a reality both in the USA and globally. Salvatorian Sisters, Priests and Brothers grew in understanding of their common roots. And, after years of conversation and deep listening, Lay Salvatorian women and men became integral to fulfilling Father Francis Jordan’s founding vision of mission in the world.  By the end of this era, the Salvatorian Family was well on its way to identifying as three distinct branches, sharing one charism.

Sister Carol Thresher, SDS

If you’re viewing our anniversary timeline for the very first time, click on Era 1 to read how our sisters first came to the USA in 1895 in response to immigrant needs.

Where have all the sisters gone?

January 1, 1970

Nearing the end of the 20th Century, adult Catholics educated in the parochial school system or had their tonsils removed at a local Catholic hospital began to wonder, where are the sisters?  What had happened to the habited women who had so generously served, often without pay, in both these nation-wide systems? Was it simply the…

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First Lay commitments complete our Salvatorian Family tree in the USA

September 8, 1971

Today, three branches make up the Salvatorian Family – Society of the Divine Savior priests and brothers; Sisters of the Divine Savior; and Lay Salvatorian women and men. Our SDS Congregation was established after the Society in the late 1800’s, under the direction of co-founders Father Francis (Mary of the Cross) Jordan and Mother Mary…

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Two schools become Divine Savior Holy Angels

December 8, 1971

Divine Savior Holy Angels. Two schools work toward becoming one at the start of a new decade. Divine Savior High School (DS) was run by Sisters of the Divine Savior, and Holy Angels Academy (HA) by Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). For years, the two academic and athletic rivals mirrored each…

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Nourishing souls one meal at a time

November 4, 1972

On this date in 1972, our sisters’ leadership team agreed that province participation in the St. Benedict the Moor Meal Program in downtown Milwaukee would be a positive collaboration to continue the longstanding Salvatorian tradition of feeding the hungry. (Photo above features Sisters Vincentine Kehrer and Evelyn Zimbauer serving food) The small “uncles’ room” at…

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Salvatorian Sisters join the Justice and Peace Center

September 1, 1973

The Capuchin Community started Milwaukee’s Justice and Peace Center in 1971 (Above photo: Sister Carol Thresher speaking at a Justice and Peace Easter People gathering). Several different roots nurtured the center’s growth. The emergence of liberation theology in Latin America struck a chord with Milwaukee’s local religious communities. Even closer to home, our country’s involvement…

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Salvatorian sponsorship ministry emerges

January 3, 1984

“New needs in the Church and world are calling forth new responses from persons gifted with the ability to respond to these needs.” Those words, spoken by Sister Maureen Hopkins, SDS at our 1977 General Chapter in Rome, focused on new methods of Salvatorian influence. (Photo above features 2000-2003 Sponsorship Corporation Board. Left to right…

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St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus continues a legacy of serving elders

December 1, 1992

A Saturday morning phone call from the Little Sisters of the Poor (LSP) started the ball rolling. Sister Margaret Regina Halloran, LSP asked then-SDS Provincial, Sister Grace Mary Croft, if our sisters might be interested in buying St. Anne’s Home for the Elderly to continue their ministry of service to elderly residents of limited means.…

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A dream is born: Groundbreaking for Hadley Terrace Senior Apartments

August 29, 1995

For nearly 100 years, the grounds at St. Mary’s Convent on 35th and Center were graced by Salvatorian Sisters walking its paths while praying their rosary beads after a long day of service. Occasionally their quiet was interrupted by the exuberant voices of candidates, novices or preps playing volleyball or even ice skating in the winter…

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Sister Mary Jo Schmidt’s dream for the elderly

April 2, 1997

Before finding her stride at board meetings, nursing homes and Hadley Terrace Senior Apartments, Sister Mary Jo Schmidt was a young nurse eager to devote herself to missionary work in China. Arriving in China in 1948, she stayed one year until the Communist Party takeover forced her and fellow Salvatorians out. Back on U.S. soil,…

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Era 5: 2000-Today | Searching for New Footing in a Changing World

We acknowledge contributions of the late Sister Margaret Shekleton, SDS, who chronicled the first 90 years of our North American Province in her book Bending in Season ©1985.

Special thanks to Provincial Archivist Sister Mary Jo Stoffel, SDS for her research assistance.