PRC newsletter

When and How did the Pallottine Missionary Sisters get here?

The story that reveals the amazing ability of divine intervention 100 Years Ago.
The story of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters order in America began when four sisters – Franciska Zabel, Alacoque Raedeker, Prisca Hess, and Dominica Senn – embarked from Germany on April 23, 1912. The sisters’ journey began with a near disaster. They were scheduled to leave on the ill-fated Titanic, but were delayed several days and had to take another ship, the Bremen. On their third day at sea, the Bremen passed through the wreckage of the Titanic still floating in the ocean.

A sister’s note found in her journal reported, “The first evidence that we converged to icebergs was that it grew cold and about noon a block of ice almost as big as a water tank swam right beside our boat.  But what a sight as we came closer.   As far as visible, the whole ocean was covered with wreckage of the Titanic, smaller and bigger pieces of wood and in between the swimming bodies, left and right beside our ship and the ship drove over others”.

Another sister tell her story, “In my memory they looked like peaceful sleepers wearing their lifebelts and being dandles by the waves. We saw a mother carrying her child in her arms, another body was tied to a chair and onto another were strapped diamonds glittering in the sun.”

“All precautions were taken that our ship would not sink quickly if something happened.  The foghorn tooted all night long to avoid a collision with other ships.  It was nearly impossible to fall asleep.  But the good Lord and His holy angels saved us. The following day we heard that we came across no less than about 15 icebergs as far as I can remember” writes another sister.

When the four sisters finally arrived safely in the United States, they were scheduled to travel by train to Stella Niagra where they would learn English.  Right before boarding the train they received a telegram from the Mother Superior instructing them to delay their departure until she could join them.  The train they were supposed to be on left the station and wrecked along the way, killing and injuring many on board.  Again, the sisters were under God’s loving protection.

The accomplishments of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters, especially the pioneer sisters in West Virginia, are enormous. They founded hospitals,  established a nursing school, and educational schools. The Pallottine Missionary Sisters have served tirelessly and lovingly for the mission of St Vincent Pallotti:  to work for the deepening and spreading of charity, faith and the love of God.

In 1966, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters ventured further west and settled in Florissant Missouri where they bought 84 acres of land in Florissant, MO and built the Pallottine Renewal Center.  This beautiful building, built in the shape of an angel, became their novitiate and convent as well as a retreat center. Milton Bischof served as the project architect for Manske-Diekmann and Partners.

In 1969, 50 years ago, Pallottine Renewal Center opened its doors as a retreat center, offering the serenity of the country within St. Louis County.