A new era: Steady growth
By Kris Leonhardt
As the Sisters of St. Joseph convent enters a new era, we take a look at the order’s formation and the creation of their facilities, along with their ongoing stewardship in the community.
Continued from previous week
In 1915, the cornerstone was laid for a new wing of the Motherhouse, to serve as the St. Joseph Academy, a high school for postulants and aspirants. The wing came with an estimated cost of $80,000 and was designed by Brielmeyer and Sons, Milwaukee.
It was noted locally as one of the largest building projects to be initiated in the Stevens Point area at the time.
Constructed on the west end of the Motherhouse, the wing would stand four stories high and 155 x60 feet in size.
Work was scheduled to begin once the frost left the ground and planned for completion in August.
As work was starting on the wing, the sisters were just completing work on a new boiler house, outside coal bin, janitor’s residence, and laundry, costing $12,000.
The academy addition was dedicated on July 26, 1916, in a double ceremony in which 25 candidates were received as novices into the sisterhood, 30 made their first vows, and 40 pronounced their final vows.
In September 1922, the sisters opened up a four-year academic course for girls who had “satisfactorily completed the grammar school.” The sisters also admitted girls 12 years and up for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade studies. They quickly began to receive applications from places as far east as New York state. The convent had enough room for 100 students.
The St. Joseph Academy was the order’s first all girls high school, which came to occupy most of the new wing.
In the summer of 1923, the sisters built a grotto in the pine grove on the grounds made of tufa rock – highly porous, sedimentary limestone – shipped from Cleveland, OH. Three statues were placed in the grotto – Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Anne, and St. Bernadette.
During a tuberculosis outbreak in the 1920s, several sisters became afflicted and moved to the original farm house while recovering.
In 1925, legal notices note the congregation’s name change from the Polish Sisters of St. Joseph to “The Order of the Sisters of St. Joseph.”
As the congregation marked their Silver Jubilee the following year, the sisters were serving nearly 50 schools in five states, including St. Peter Mission, St. Stanislaus Mission, and St. Casimir Mission in the Stevens Point area.
Continued next week