St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus continues a legacy of serving elders

Sr. Grace Mary Croft, Sr. Rachel Wallace, and Sr. Maryann Engelhardt attending St. Anne’s press conference with two Little Sisters of the Poor

December 1, 1992 – A Saturday morning phone call from the Little Sisters of the Poor (LSP) started the ball rolling. Sister Margaret Regina Halloran, LSP asked then-SDS Provincial, Sister Grace Mary Croft, if our sisters might be interested in buying St. Anne’s Home for the Elderly to continue their ministry of service to elderly residents of limited means.

That phone conversation set in motion a major transition for both religious communities. In a letter to her Salvatorian Sisters, Sister Grace Mary acknowledged, “Such a venture has its risks. At the same time, we may be in a unique position to continue the Church’s ministry to the poor elderly in Milwaukee.”

Negotiating for the ownership of St. Anne’s Home for the Elderly

With knowledge that the Little Sisters of the Poor wanted to sell St. Anne’s, the SDS Leadership Team and our lay advisors also saw an opportunity to establish an assisted living facility for our retired Salvatorian Sisters.

Less than a year later, St. Anne’s Home for the Elderly became an SDS-sponsored institution with a new name: St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus. Transferring sponsorship of St. Anne’s is also a historical milestone for the Little Sisters of the Poor. The order founded St. Anne’s in 1876 and relocated several times before settling at 92nd Street just north of Lisbon Avenue on Milwaukee’s west side. The Little Sisters of the Poor celebrated the day that “Sister Margaret Regina [Halloran, LSP] handed the keys of St. Anne’s to Sister Grace Mary Croft [SDS],” fully confident the two religious communities shared a common mission to serve the elderly: “providing quality care … regardless of economic circumstances.”

SDS Provincial at the time, Sr. Grace Mary Croft, with Sr. Margaret Regina Halloran, LSP and Sr. Cecilia Honigfort, LSP

Residents and staff also took the change in stride. Former administrator, Sr. Cecilia Honigfort, LSP, said, “I know that the residents will be very happy that the mission continues. It means everything to them and to us during this period of transition. We know each one by name and I will carry them in my heart forever. We had such great support from everyone.” Even ten years after the transfer, Sr. Cecilia still echoed that sentiment.

Soon after the transfer of St. Anne’s sponsorship, there was a lot of work to be done. After several Salvatorian Sisters moved into the Little Sisters’ former St. Anne’s convent, our Provincial Team assessed the renovations needed to repurpose it as an assisted living facility for our retired sisters.

Sisters Mary Lee Grady and Mary Evelyn Zimbauer help move in SSR

With final plans in hand and funding secured, convent renovations began in 2000. On December 1, 2001, 30 of our members moved into the space now known as SSR, short for Salvatorian Sisters Residence. Even under the gray cast of a Milwaukee winter, moving day was one of celebration for all our sisters. Younger sisters were eager to help move in elder members who were equally excited to see their new home.

Today, St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus offers assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care to residents coming from many faiths and financial situations. Right next door, our sisters at SSR maintain a nurturing, faith-filled home for one another. In the end, Sr. Grace Mary was right: such a venture did have its risks. But like the sisters who came before her – and those who would come after – she courageously chose the path that Providence showed.

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