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Arrival of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration


Fall 1925

Father Kubelbeck was fortunate in securing the services of three Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from LaCrosse to teach in the new school. These Sisters were a tremendous influence on the children of the parish, as well as their parents. Each was given a stipend of $225. The sisters lived in the School Bilding on its upper floors where two classrooms were converted into living quarters.

Although the Sisters graciously took on other responsibilities in the parish, e.g. taking care of the church’s altar, vestments, linens, etc. which the ladies of the parish had done previously, they were very careful not to extend themselves unnecessarily so as to distract themselves from their mission.
Foundress of the Sisters Religious Order

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration were founded by Mother Aemiliana Dirr in 1849. However, when she and some other sisters lost their focus, diverting their attention from education to household duties at the newly built diocesan seminary in Milwaukee in 1856, they became overwhelmed with physical labor, and found themselves unable to develop a truly religious life.

Mother Aemiliana and five others left the community they founded living out the rest of their lives as lay women.

Keeping the Proper Balance

Over the years, however, when other responsibilities were placed on them, we can be thankful that although the Sisters may have struggled with distractions and how to keep a proper balance of the tasks at hand, they persevered in keeping their focus on prayer and their mission of educating the children of the parish.


Click to enlarge.

Moreover, the School Sisters passed on the value of keeping a proper balance to the children. For example, in the 1950′s Sr. Coronata who after reading and explaining poems to her students had them memorize different lines from the poems. Many parishioners today can still recite lines from In Flander’s Fields and The Village Blacksmith.

The latter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, focuses on a blacksmith and his daily life. The blacksmith serves as a role model who balances his job with the roles he plays with his family and community. Just as the character in the poem is presented as an iconic tradesman who is embedded in the history of the town, the Franciscan Sisters who taught at the parish school would sink their roots deep into the parish.

Even today, one young woman of the order, Sister Sarah Hennessey, FSPA (see photo below), recognized how important it is to keep a proper balance before making her perpetual vows. As part of her spiritual discernment, she wrote a letter to Mother Aemiliana who died in 1901:

“Will I be enough? I am afraid my fragility will overtake my gifts. I fear even that my gift of self will not be whole enough. I am sure you may remember that feeling as you first stepped on this soil or when you left in faith. And yet, God stayed with you. And in a funny way, you stayed with us too. Because you let the vision lead you, and walked past walls of fear.” Read More

Sarah Hennessey took her final vows on Sept. 24, 2011.