Anniversary of our first mission
The Sisters of Providence have a long history of mission work in Jasper, Ind. This week marked the 172nd year the school has been in operation. St. Joseph school located in Jasper, Ind., was the first establishment of the Sisters of Providence outside of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Mother Theodore was asked in 1841 to provide three sisters for Father Kundek’s school, but she thought it best to wait until the following year. One sister chosen for the mission knew German, as this was essential for the German settlers in Jasper.
Mother Theodore accompanied the three sisters and asked to begin the mission on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. After the death of Father Kundek, the St. Meinrad Benedictines were placed in charge of the parish. The school grew and prospered and the school’s golden jubilee was celebrated in 1894.
St. Joseph differed from the congregation’s other schools in that it was a public school. In 1917 the sisters received word that in the future every teacher in the country who had taught in a public school for 35 years would benefit from a retirement fund, and would then retire from the public schools. A new school building was completed during the 1926-27 school year.
Beginning in June 1942 the Benedictines withdrew, and diocesan clergy were assigned.
In 1943 the Jasper City Schools took over providing the salaries, including the principal and the three sisters who had been designated as parochial school teachers.
On Jan. 4, 1949, lightning struck the school which resulted in a fire that caused much damage. Students were temporarily accommodated in the rectory, convent basement and high school. These events caused school to start a week late the following year. A new school building, which is the current school building, was dedicated Oct. 16, 1959.
By the 1973-74 year 14 sisters were at the convent which dwindled to seven the following school year. After this, two sisters lived in apartments and served at the school. The last year for a Sister of Providence at the school was 2001-02.