St Joseph Chapel, Milwaukee, WI

Thank you to Steve Kuhl for sending in this one.
You have to add the St. Joseph Chapel in Milwaukee as a "Places I need to visit".

I stopped in yesterday as I was driving past just to see what it looked like on the inside. I had read something about it last year and always wanted to check it out.

WOW! It looks to be a close architectural relative to the Mary of the Angels Chapel in La Crosse. See attached pictures.

4 pm Mass was taking place so I wandered the Adoration Chapel in the back (just like La Crosse) and went upstairs to look at the balconies. Next thing I know I am in the Relic Room. There was probably over a 100 relics of saints in all kinds of reliquaries on three walls of the room. And some of the relics were very large. Very impressive!
The contact for a tour is Sister Nedine Ferris

And I was told that the expert about the relic room is Sister Mary Alma.

I never did get to see the whole chapel. I will definitely go back for a complete tour.

These nuns there also seem to be the aging, polyester pant-suit "Peace and Justice" sisters that are dying off. The one that I talked to seemed very nice but what a shame.

Maybe the Nashville Dominicans can gain a foothold in these gorgeous convents to keep them alive.
A little background:
St. Joseph’s Convent was established by the School Sisters of St. Francis, an order of nuns originally headquartered in Germany. Forced from their homeland by the repressive May Laws of 1872, which prevented them from teaching, the Schools Sisters of St. Francis established their new motherhouse at New Cassel (now Campbellsport), Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. The order remained there from 1873 to 1885 and briefly established a new motherhouse in Winona, Minnesota from 1885 to 1886. Milwaukee Archbishop Heiss approved of the order’s return to Wisconsin in 1886. Rather than their intended destination of Madison, the School Sisters of St. Francis were persuaded to build a motherhouse in the Milwaukee area. The nuns purchased a private beer garden called Greenfield Park from proprietor Joseph Knurr in October of 1886.
Sold!  It's now on the list.


  1. W-O-W! Thanks for posting the pics/info. I weep for the architecture of most modern Catholic Churches. Will have to visit St. Joseph Chapel next time I'm back "home" around Milwaukee.

  2. It's my all-time favorite Adoration Chapel-gorgeous beyond words! I am blessed to live so close and to be able to visit anytime. Thanks for posting this!

  3. Interesting re-write of the history there.

    That convent was an OSF convent (Alverno College OSF's) originally, and did not become part of the SSSF until around 20 (?) years ago. The SSSFs ran Cardinal Stritch, St Mary's HS (now closed), and a few other spots, while the OSF's had Alverno and a number of grade schools in the area.

    My mother was educated by the SSSF's at St Mary's. I was educated by the OSF's (music department) at Alverno--so I know this stuff to be true, no matter the re-write...

  4. Very interesting D29, maybe lazy research? The website that was pulled from was the City of Milwaukee.

  5. Just to clarify about the history, the City of Milwaukee's information is correct. There are two orders Dad29 mentions: the School Sisters of St. Francis (who go by both SSSF and OSF, started Alverno and in whose Motherhouse is St. Joseph Convent Chapel, which they built), and the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi (who go by OSF like many Franciscan women's orders, are located on the lake in St. Francis, WI and who had Stritch). They're often mistaken for each other. I work for the School Sisters (my office is right under that gorgeous chapel) and am an associate of the community, and I wanted to clear up the confusion about which community is which.


Please contact if you have issues commenting.