Salvatorian community forms Guild

In the late ‘50s, the future of the Salvatorian Sisterhood was bright and promising. The need for our sisters’ services had never been stronger, and many young women answered the call to religious life within the Salvatorian community.

Our motherhouse was bustling and alive. Spirits were high as our sisters served in schools, hospitals and social services.

By 1958, the motherhouse at 35th and Center Streets housed 73 sisters, 12 novices, 13 postulants, and 70 high school girls, also known as “preps.”

Eventually, our growth in membership meant outgrowing the convent. Among nearly 200 convent residents, word spread quickly about building a new motherhouse. Fundraising efforts soon followed, giving rise to The Salvatorian Guild. The Salvatorian Guild engaged parents and reached out to the local community.

1959 Salvatorian Guild Picnic

The Guild held fundraising events such as annual picnics and fairs. The Salvatorian Guild Picnic of 1962 gathered more than 1,200 people for a cookout, games, entertainment and auctions. The large turnout was hailed in the Guild’s September newsletter that year: “Now that’s real fine participation!”

In her book Bending in Season, Sister Margaret Shekleton, SDS wrote, “The group was supportive, helping one another to appreciate the religious vocation of their daughters…” Soon, appreciation reached beyond Guild members, as the young sisters became “daughters” to the local community, as well.

Even more important than fundraising, the Guild helped to spread the mission of the Salvatorian Sisters to anyone who would listen. The Guild was designed for this very purpose after all, to create an understanding of the sisters’ vocation, among both family members and the wider local community.

Sister Grace Mary Croft with her parents in the summer of 1960

Sister Grace Mary Croft’s father, Aloysius Croft, even penned a booklet titled This Is HER Life, to help guide parents through their daughter’s discernment to religious life. On the first pages he offers an explanation as to why someone’s daughter might want to become a sister.

“Let’s begin with a very basic question, and one that certainly looms large in your mind. Why does your daughter want to be a Sister? O certainly, she’s a good girl, but definitely not the ‘pious’ type. She is full of energy and fun; she enjoys everything good in life. And now she has decided to go to the convent! Why?

“Well, why did you choose to get married? Wasn’t it because you felt you would find the greatest happiness in married life—that that was the way God had pointed out for you? It is the same with your daughter. She feels that her greatest happiness lies in the life of a Sister—that God has pointed out that way for her. And still there is something more to it than that. For a religious vocation isn’t simply a matter of making up one’s mind, nor is it just a feeling or even an attraction. Rather it is a wholehearted response to Christ’s invitation: ‘Follow Me… You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.’ Why has God chosen your daughter for this special gift of religious vocation? Only He can answer that, but in doing so He has complimented you also, and perhaps has marked His approval of the home life you provided for her.”

In 1959, Provincial Superior Mother Demetria Lang addressed Guild members saying, “We Sisters, and you parents, will gain much from the Guild; joy in working side by side, mutual inspiration, and a full sharing of the spiritual fruits of our labors for the cause of God.”

Presentation of first charter to Milwaukee Chapter in April 1960. Sisters left to right: Sister Maureen Hopkins and Mother Aquin Gilles
First meeting of representatives from Dickeyville, Wausau and Milwaukee Chapters in April 1964. Sisters back row, left to right: Sisters Amabilis McLaughlin and Lucy Marie; sisters front row, left to right: Sister Maureen Hopkins and Mother Aquin Gilles

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 ...