RELIGIOUS SISTERS IN OUR PARISH
Three distinct orders or congregations of religious sisters were a part of our parish for 80 years. The people of our parish always loved and respected the sisters, and each group of sisters always felt at home and welcomed in Three Rivers.
1) The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph (FSSJ), 1921-1973
Perhaps the best remembered of the religious orders in our parish because they were here the longest, the Franciscan Sisters staffed our parochial school from 1921 to 1973. The FSSJs were founded by Mother Colette Hilbert and Fr. Jacek Fudziński, OFM.Conv. in 1897 to serve the needs of immigrant children by teaching in Polish parochial schools and religious education programs, and also as nurses. At their peak in the 1950s, the FSSJ membership reached 500. Most of our former teachers have mentioned over the years that Three Rivers was one of their best (if not the best) assignments in their religious careers.
2) The Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (LSIC), 1973-1990
The LSIC arrived in our parish in 1973 after the parochial school closed. Their congregation was founded in Poland by the layman Edmund Bojanowski in 1850. Pope John Paul II named him Blessed Edmund Fr. Bojanowski in 1999. The sisters' primary apostolates continue to be working with youth, the sick and the aged. There are approximately 1500 LSIC serving throughout the world. In our parish, they served as sacristans and religious education teachers.
In 1980, a Nursery School for pre-Kindergarten children was opened in our former parochial school. The LSIC also assumed the teaching duties of the nursery school.
In order to consolidate their sisters closer to their provincial motherhouse in Cherry Hill, N.J., the LSIC left our parish at the end of the 1989-1990 school year.
3) The Sisters Minor of Mary Immaculate (SMMI), 1990-2001
A relatively new congregation in the Catholic Church, the SMMI were founded in 1983. The sisters work in day care and elementary schools, in religious education, youth programs and summer camps. In our parish, the SMMI continued to staff our nursery school after the departure of the LSIC starting in 1990. Because they are still a young congregation, their membership is still growing (approximately 80 sisters at the time of this writing). At the end of school year 2000-2001, the SMMI left our parish due to the lack of available sisters certified to conduct a nursery school. Thus, after two decades, the parish nursery school closed its doors.
Within a year after the departure of the SMMI, our parish convent, one of four main buildings of our parish property, was sold.
We are grateful to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary for blessing our parish with the presence and influence of dedicated and faithful religious sisters for so many years.
Let us pray daily to the Lord for an increase in vocations. We sincerely hope for the eventual return of religious sisters to our parish.