Model T adds new momentum to sisters’ ministry

Sister Baptista Faupel

November 14, 1932 – In 1908, after the release of one of the first mass produced vehicles, the Model T Ford, cars on the streets of Milwaukee were a common sight. Both men and women enjoyed the freedom of being behind the wheel, and traveling by car was much quicker than waiting for the trolley. Driving was a “trend” sweeping the nation, and the sisters in Milwaukee took notice. They saw how practical it would be to own a car for transportation to and from patient homes, so by 1925 they purchased a Model T. Sister Baptista Faupel, SDS driving the car around town became a familiar sight and no one questioned why the sisters owned a vehicle. That was until Samuel A. Stritch became Archbishop of Milwaukee. He directed a very strong letter of admonishment to Mother Blanche Kinzer. The letter dated November 14, 1932 read:

My dear Mother Superior:

Will you please notify your Sisters that I absolutely forbid Sisters driving an automobile on public roads and streets and that I shall punish violations of this regulation with appropriate penalties.

With blessing,

Driving was considered inappropriate by Archbishop Stritch because sisters were not driving in Europe. Although the sisters in Milwaukee began to adapt to American customs and traditions, clerical superiors at home and in Rome expected them to continue to follow European customs. To run errands and make necessary trips, the sisters had to rely on friends and drivers for hire. It wasn’t until 1953 that the sisters once again (like Sr. Baptista) gained the independence to get behind the wheel of a car.

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