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St. Agnes, Congregation of Sisters of

ST. AGNES, CONGREGATION OF SISTERS OF

(CSA, Official Catholic Directory #3710); established in 1858 at Barton, Wisconsin. The congregation owes its origin to Casper Rehrl, a missionary from Austria, who in 1845 offered his services to Bp. John Martin Henni of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After establishing parishes throughout the state, Rehrl determined to found a religious society of women to teach Christian doctrine to the young during his absence on visits to his numerous parishes. With the permission of Pius IX, he began the congregation with a nucleus of three young ladies from the vicinity of Barton. On July 3, 1864, Sister M. Agnes (Anna Mary Hazotte) was elected first superior by the five sisters who then comprised the community. Then only 17 years old, she guided the congregation until her death on March 6, 1905.

In 1870 the congregation moved from Barton to a more favorable location at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Rules and constitutions, written for the sisters by Rev. Francis Haas, OFM, were declared praiseworthy by the Holy See in 1875. Five years later, after a few revisions in the rule, the congregation became a papal institute. The rules were derived from those of St. Augustine commonly followed by religious women who combine the active and contemplative life. Initially the Sisters of St. Agnes confined themselves to teaching in Catholic and public elementary schools in Wisconsin, whence they spread to other sates. In 1896 they entered the nursing field by opening St. Agnes Hospital in Ford du Lac.

The sisters are engaged in the field of academic education at all levels, catechetics, hospitals, healthcare, care

facilities for the aged, parish ministries, social outreach services, and pastoral ministries. They have established overseas communities in Honduras, Nicaragua and Russia. The generalate is in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Bibliography: m. v. naber, With All Devotedness: Chronicles of the Sisters of St. Agnes, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin (New York 1959).

[m. v. naber]

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