Salvatorian Sisters join the Justice and Peace Center

Sister Sheila Novak with fellow Salvatorian Sisters protesting nuclear war in New York City

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 with the war in Vietnam brought the very idea of peace to the forefront.

In its September 1973 newsletter, the Capuchins stated, “The long-range goal of the Justice and Peace Center is to enable the staff and the people they work with to grow in Gospel liberation through just relationships reflected in lifestyle and action.” It was a vision our sisters – and their Salvatorian “brothers” – could get behind. And they did.

What started as a two-person staff quickly grew into a cooperative venture, with four local religious communities signing on to help the Capuchins work toward their stated goal. They were Sisters of the Divine Savior, Society of the Divine Savior Priests and Brothers, School Sisters of St. Francis, and Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. In a short time, other Wisconsin religious communities (Racine Dominicans, Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother and School Sisters of Notre Dame) also came on board.

Sisters Carol Thresher and Jean Schafer at the Justice and Peace Center

Not only did this collaboration sharpen the vision for a just and peaceful future, it also consolidated social justice efforts among the religious communities. For Capuchins, reaching out to communities like SDS was the next logical step. Salvatorians – both vowed religious and our Lay women and men – were already committed to creating a peaceful and just world.

The Justice and Peace Center would go on to develop programs striving for systemic justice on every level.  Their hope was to raise justice awareness within the constituent communities and to cooperate with already existing groups with similar goals.  Their long-range vision was to provoke systemic change in social, political and economic structures in the U.S. and around the world.  When the center dissolved in 1982, it left a legacy of valuable lessons, many of which we still call on as we continue to seek a more just and peaceful world.

Sisters Carol Thresher and Clarice Steinfeldt in the Kellogg parking lot after a shareholder meeting

Sister Carol Thresher, SDS worked closely with the Justice and Peace Center throughout its existence, even before joining its staff in 1974. During her final years teaching at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, she coordinated our members’ engagement with the center, serving as a leader, liaison and finally, full-time staff member. In fact, Sr. Carol kindled our sisters’ commitment to the Justice and Peace Center from the very start. More than a year before SDS formally signed on with the center, she formed a “Justice and Peace Action Group” within our sisterhood. Sr. Carol saw justice as vital to our work toward salvation.

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 ...