Nourishing souls one meal at a time

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)

Sister Mary Jo Stoffel and Lay Salvatorian Tom Hunt preparing food

The sisters recalled that at the height of the Great Depression in 1933, Salvatorian Sisters provided more than 6,200 meals, often to destitute, homeless men. These “men of the road and rails” or “uncles,” as our sisters affectionately called them, were always treated with respect, and served in a spirit of kinship. It was a custom that would continue into the mid ‘60s.

During the 1930s, Milwaukee was struggling along with the rest of the country. Poverty and homelessness had a grip on thousands of our citizens. Daily meals were far from certain. Our sisters’ commitment to feeding the poor was a response to this community-wide hardship. Even after the Great Depression, Milwaukeeans were accustomed to Salvatorian Sisters serving soup and bread to anyone who showed up at our door.

Sister Maureen Hopkins eating with guests Salvatorian Sisters served

The small “uncles’ room” at St. Mary’s Convent remained open into the 1960s until larger, more structured programs began to provide for Milwaukee’s needy residents.  Still, our sisters remained committed to serving the poor and homeless. When St. Benedict the Moor Parish at 10th & State Streets started a meal program, we were eager to lend a hand.

By 1973, Salvatorian Sisters were preparing and serving large meals at St. Ben’s five times a year. With a deep concern for the needy, Sister Diane Goetzinger called on her organizational gifts to lead our community in this endeavor. Along with cooking and serving, our sisters grew the program’s corps of volunteers, which came to include family, friends and members of the entire Salvatorian Family.

Sister Clarice Steinfeldt (left) preparing food with others
Sisters Alice Gindt and Clara Cáceres preparing food

Today, St. Benedict the Moor Community Meal program sponsored by Capuchin Community Services is a fixture in Milwaukee’s central city. Its 90,000 meals served each year far exceeds our sisters’ outreach in the 1930s, but Salvatorians played a vital role in building the program to become what it is today.

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 ...