Salvatorian sponsorship ministry emerges

Sister Maureen Hopkins, SDS, Provincial, 1972-1978

“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 Sisters Virginia Honish and Beverly Heitke) As SDS institutions grew, so did our collaboration with lay workers. In our education ministry, financial and administrative professionals began directing tuition and fundraising initiatives, as well as contributing their educational expertise. In the healthcare industry, increasingly complex government regulations required a higher level of expertise among doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators. Soon, laypersons outnumbered our sisters in nearly every institution, even those founded by Salvatorians.

Our sisters’ role in managing our institutions was changing. The “family firm” approach where everyone learned on the job was no longer enough. In the words of Sr. Maureen, a new response was needed. The Salvatorian sponsorship ministry was that response.

Sponsorship coordinator, Dr. Frank Probst

In 1984, our North American Provincial Leadership Team appointed Sr. Maureen and Dr. Frank Probst as Sponsorship Coordinators. Together, they codified our efforts to ensure our SDS values remain at the center of our sponsored institutions. Over the years, our sisters gradually delegated day-to-day institutional decision making to appointed lay leadership and newly incorporated boards of directors. Each institution—whether in healthcare or education—was founded on Salvatorian principles. The challenge of sponsorship, then, was to ensure those principles continue to thrive and remain relevant amid ongoing changes often demanded by the professions themselves.

For our sisters, “sponsorship is a means of influencing the mission, character and philosophy of an institution.” More specifically, our sponsored institutions are tasked with promoting justice, improving the quality of life, a preferential option for the poor, collaboration with others, and responsible stewardship.

Through religious sponsorship, our sisters maintain this level of influence in many different ways. We lead in-service programs for Divine Savior Holy Angels High School faculty and staff, and for administrators and staff at St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus. We hold seats on governing boards of our sponsored institutions, approving or amending countless important decisions. We lead ethics committees and offer financial consultation alongside institution executives.  During this Era 4 in our history, the actual practice of collaborative decision-making for each institutional ministry would evolve.  By 2000, we took another giant step forward with the formation of the SDS Sponsorship Corporation.

Since Sr. Maureen’s call more than 30 years ago, our sisters have remained dedicated to keeping the Salvatorian mission at the heart of each sponsored institution. We have met “new needs” with “new responses,” showing once again what it truly means to move and bend in season.

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 ...