Sisters of St Francis
service to Lithuanians
During the 20th century, famine, war, and political turmoil generated global emigration. Lithuania alone lost a quarter million of its predominantly Catholic people. They passed through Ellis Island between 1899 and 1914; many pressed on to the eastern Pennsylvania anthracite region and the mills of Chicago and Pittsburgh. Their labor was cheap; injuries in the mines were common, and lives were impoverished. Clustered together in poor neighborhoods, they were unable to scrape together the resources for their own church or children’s religious education.
In Pittsburgh, Rev. John J. Sutkaitis and Rev. Magnus J. Kazenas collaborated with Monsignor Michael L. Krusas, pastor of Chicago’s St. George Parish, to convince Lithuanian Sisters in Chicago to minister in Pittsburgh’s parishes. In 1922, after years of negotiation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale agreed to receive 24 postulates and prepare them to pioneer a new Franciscan congregation – The Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God. Located in the Borough of Whitehall, approximately 6 miles south of downtown Pittsburgh and next to St. Casimir’s Cemetery, the sisters built their motherhouse and ancillary buildings over the years. They included a school, which is now a daycare center and retreat houses. The property and building were sold in 2015. The daycare center is all that remains today and is still operated by the Sisters. The sisters now live in various parish facilities.
The Sisters established ministries in Lithuania and Brazil. Today many of the Sisters that make up the congregation are natives of Brazil. The Sisters have successfully completed their mission to assist Lithuania after its most-recent restoration of independence as opposed to being forced to flee the country during WWII. The Sisters have also ministered to many schools and and hospitals in the near Midwest and eastern parts of the U.S. as their numbers permit. Today they are still involved in day care, social service, education, pastoral ministry, healthcare, and care for the poor. If you are interested in knowing how you can help or if you want to explore more about religious life, you may contact the Sisters of St. Francis at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Web site.