Mother Caroline Friess

August 21, 1824–July 22, 1892

"Through courageous leadership, adapted the congregation to life on another continent, perceptively reading the signs of the times, risking innovative response to the needs of the new world."

Prologue, You Are Sent, p. 19

Josepha Friess was raised by her Reverend Uncle Michael Friess and her paternal grandmother. She was educated by the Benedictines at Eichstaedt, Bavaria. Her uncle knew of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and suggested she join this community. After entering the young community she was one of four sisters and a novice who joined Mother Theresa in coming to America. She was twenty-three and Mother Theresa was fifty in 1847. Mother Theresa appointed Sister Caroline to open the first motherhouse in Milwaukee in 1850. In the same year, she was appointed vicar-general in charge of the American branch. She was twenty-six years old.

The amazing grace of their love and friendship has allowed all School Sisters of Notre Dame in North America to treasure these two women as foundresses. The love and friendship between Mother Theresa and Mother Caroline strengthened the unity of the congregation when so many other European foundations saw their sisters in America choose to separate from their founding community. On March 10, 1875, Mother Theresa wrote to Sister Caroline, "I thank God that he has given you wisdom and understanding, as our unity is surely most pleasing to him, as he has repeatedly shown in striking ways. Try to nourish and care for the spirit of unity among the houses and sisters given over to your care."

She is fondly remembered as a beloved Mother whose favorite prayer book was the Directory, a list of all the School Sisters of Notre Dame in North America. She believed that education was holy work. "The purpose of our schools is predominantly missionary work. Having won the hearts of our pupils for religion and virtue they become, as it were, missionaries to their own parents."

April 1862, #28

At her death, she was responsible for creating an educational network that included 200 convents, 2,000 sisters and 70,000 students. To learn more about her life, explore Mother Caroline Friess: Case Study in Courage.

 

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The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity

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Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger

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