First Salvatorian Sisters arrive in Milwaukee

The first Salvatorian Sisters arrived in Milwaukee, Wis. to provide in-home nursing care to immigrants 119 years after our nation declared its independence. Sister Raphaela documented their experience of Independence Day festivities in the Chronicles:

Now we are on the soil of our new country. Many thoughts filled our minds as we faced a future unknown and uncertain. We knew only that social nursing was to be our activity, and Milwaukee the scene of our labor, and that for the time being we were to stay with the Franciscan Sisters until we could provide a convent ourselves. This trip by rail from New York to Milwaukee was uneventful. On Thursday, July 4, shortly before midnight we arrived.

From New York, we sent a telegram to the Sisters with whom we were to stay asking them to meet us at the station. But as we alighted from the train we couldn’t see anyone there. What a disappointment! At first a very heavy feeling of being strange and in a strange land overwhelmed us. But remembering that we were apostolic workers, we took our suitcases and grips which contained all our possessions and walked toward the door wondering and asking ourselves where “Greenfield” could be. Just then a small, bearded man appeared. We hoped in our hearts he was sent by the Sisters. It was true. The late hour, it was now nearly one o’clock in the morning, together with the holiday celebration with its frightening display of fireworks did not permit the Sisters to be in the street. (Chronicles)

Years later, Sister Margaret Shekleton, SDS excerpted the account in her book, Bending in Season: History of the North American Province of the Sisters of the Divine Savior – 1895 to 1985:

The three Sisters arrived dazed and bewildered at the fireworks and the hilarity in the streets as Milwaukeeans celebrated Independence Day. Feeling out-of-place and foreign, the three pioneers and their trusted guide rode on the electric car to Greenfield Park, the city limits of Milwaukee’s south side. It was here with Mothers Alexia and Alfons at St. Joseph’s Convent that Archbishop Katzer had arranged accommodations for them until they could find a home of their own. (Bending in Season by Sister Margaret Shekleton, SDS, Copyright © 1985 Sisters of the Divine Savior)

Our 125 Year Celebration

As we look back on our 125th anniversary of coming to the USA, we invite you to reminisce with us. We've launched all 5 time lines with historical milestones and stories that bring to life the experiences of our sisters who came before us.

Era 1: 1895-1920
Responding to Immigrant Needs

The missionary response of hearty immigrant women religious characterizes the first 25 years of Salvatorian Sisters’ presence in the United States ...

Era 2: 1920-1950
Expanding in an “American” Church

By 1920, life for a Salvatorian Sister in the USA was radically different than it had been 25 years earlier. World War I ....

Era 3: 1950-1970
Embracing Renewal

Bob Dylan’s 1964 classic, The Times They Are A Changing, captures the high energy of this era.  Change was afoot both outside and inside the Salvatorian convent walls...

Era 4: 1970-2000
Building Collaboration

Events of the mid-1960s renewed the collaborative energy that had always characterized Salvatorian life. Cloistered living ...

Era 5: 2000-2020
Searching for New Footing in a Changing World

When the new millennium arrived on January 1, 2000, Salvatorian Sisters were already five years into our second century on USA soil.  Our ...