In 1912, St. Louis Guanella, the founder of the Daughters of St. Mary Providence and of the Servants of Charity, traveled from Northern Italy to the United States.
In 1912, St. Louis Guanella, the founder of the Daughters of St. Mary Providence and of the Servants of Charity, traveled from Northern Italy to the United States. He was encouraged by Pope Pius X to make the trip to discover how congregations could serve the needs of the Italian immigrants who had immigrated to the United States, but were loosing their faith.
Upon his return to Italy, St. Louis chose six sisters for this mission to the United States; Mother Rose Bertolini, Sr. Sophie, Sr. Savina, Sr. James, Sr. Mary and Sr. Claudina.
The story of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in the United States during the past 100 years is similar to the story of any family. It contains hopes and dreams, struggles and disappointments, births and deaths.
The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence touched Sleepy Eye when in 1960, when Fr. Stephen Adrian, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Sleepy Eye, requested that sisters from the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence staff a new nursing home that he was building.
The sisters responded and moved to Sleepy Eye in 1960. Then in 1993, Divine Providence Nursing Home was reconstructed and the old section was re-modeled to become apartments which is now known as Lake Villa Maria.
The sisters continue to staff Divine Providence and were honored on Thursday, Oct. 24, when the third grade class from St. Mary’s performed a play honoring the Daughter’s of St. Mary’s. At the conclusion of the performance, the students gave the sisters flowers and posed for pictures with them before enjoying refreshments.
In 1913, the group of six sisters from the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, arrived in New York. From there they traveled to Chicago where they organized a kindergarten. In 1914, the sisters opened a kindergarten and a day care for children of working mothers.
On Nov. 7, 1915, the sisters received word that their beloved founder, St. Louis Guanella had died two weeks earlier. Their trust in Providence was rewarded when the following year, four young women joined their group to become postulants and eventually sisters. At this time a group of Catholic women called the Ladies of Isabella began to assist the sisters in their mission. With their help the Daughters were able to purchase a house and property which became the first motherhouse of the Daughters of St. Mary’s Providence.
In 1917, Mother Rose received a request for the sisters to staff a hospital in Milbank, S.D. She sent two sisters to study nursing in Chicago and in 1920, the two nursing sisters, Sr. Mary and Sr. Savina, moved into the hospital even though it was still under construction.
In 1925, Mother Rose realized a dream when a former church that was empty was purchased and a residential school for girls with developmental disabilities was opened. This eventually became, and remains today, the motherhouse for the North American Province.
Only four years after opening St. Mary of Providence, Mother Rose passed away on Nov. 1, 1929.
Soon another need was recognized for the older and more physically disabled of residents. The Daughters were able to establish a residence in Illinois.
Over the course of many years the sisters spread to other countries and continued expansion in the U.S. with various new missions.
The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence continue on for the next 100 years with the courage that comes from knowing that God, our Provident Father, is caring for them.