Friday, March 23, 2007

Felician Sisters in Michigan Part 2 of 3

Here's the second part of the last article I will be presenting from Poles in Michigan, Vol.1.

The Educational Work of The Felician Sisters in Michigan, cont.

Today the Felician Sisters have under their direction in Michigan fifteen high schools, of which ten are located in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The oldest of these, the Felician Academy, originally known as the Seminary of the Felician Sisters, was incorporated under the laws of Michigan in 1882. Mother Cajetan, one of the original five Felician Sisters who came to America as a certified teacher, organized a schedule of classes for the Sisters at the Seminary as she did for each of the schools conducted by the Felician Sisters. Father Dabrowski’s contributions to the community by way of direction and assistance to Mother Cajetan were a source of inspiration and encouragement. At first the Seminary was an exclusive convent-boarding school for the education and classical training of those candidates who were too young to be received as postulants of the Community. Today, though no subject of the secondary school curriculum is neglected, the greatest emphasis is placed on the religion courses so as to give a sound training to the girls, many of whom will be future mothers and teachers in Detroit. In the seventy-one years of its existence, 1882-1953, over one thousand two-hundred graduates of the school were admitted as postulants to the Community.

The first parochial school in the city of Hamtramck was opened in September, 1909, under the direction of the Felician Sisters. Since then additional buildings have been added to the parish. The new St. Florian Church of Gothic architecture is a monument to the determination, perseverance, and zeal of Father Bonkowski, as well as a living symbol of the faith and generosity of the Polish people. In 1940, Reverend P. Walkowiak opened the high school, It was on the recommendation of Monsignor Deady that the accrediting Board waived the provision that a school graduate two or more classes before it becomes accredited, and the class of 1944, pioneers of St. Florian High, were graduated from an accredited institution. In the school year 1952-1953, the new St. Florian Education Center gave the youth of Hamtramck additional advantages. An up-to-date home economics department enables the girls of the school to become efficient homemakers. In the commercial department besides the regular subjects offered, special classes in comptometry are held. The science labs and the mechanical drawing classes provide the latest and best equipment that our youth can wish for. The gym, spacious and attractive in itself, gives every opportunity for the physical development of the students. It also provides ample space for the social activities of the school and parish.

In the school year 1952-1953 there were three thousand twenty-five high school students taught by one hundred five Felician Sisters in Michigan; of the group five hundred fifteen students received their high school diplomas.

In the field of Elementary education the Felician Sisters of Detroit now direct forty-five elementary schools in the State of Michigan. During the year 1952-1953, nineteen thousand six hundred twenty three children attended these schools which were taught by three hundred ninety-nine Felician Sisters.

Special schools have been part of the educational work of the Felician Sisters from the very beginning of their establishment in America in 1874. Throughout the years, schools have been conducted in connection with orphanages for children on the elementary school level. The two orphanages under the direction of the Sisters of the Detroit Province are the Guardian Angel Home for Girls established in Detroit in 1882, and the St. Joseph Home for Boys in Jackson, opened in 1912. Since 1938 both Homes have a policy of sending most of the children to the parochial schools, both elementary and high. The kindergarten classes and the nursery schools are conducted at the Homes.

The Sisters hold religious instruction classes for Catholic children attending public schools. They likewise conduct mission schools in parishes unable to provide a parochial school. In 1952-1953, there were twenty-two catechetical centers and eight misssion schools with an enrollment of two thousand four hundred seventy-two boys and girls under the care of eighty-seven sisters.

As the Felician Sisters came to America primarily for educational work, teacher preparation was of vital interest to the Community from the beginning. Father Dabrowski directed the educational activities of the Community until his death in 1903. Until 1915 the professional training and higher education of the Felician Sisters was limited to teachers’ institutes and lectures of visiting professors. Classes for Sisters were conducted at the Seminary of the Felician Sisters. The Sisters were prepared for diocesan certification by the diocesan school board of education. From 1915 to 1937 the professional and higher educational training of the Sisters advanced. Sisters were sent to study at the Sisters’ College in Washington, D. C., Detroit Teachers’ College, the University of Detroit, and other institutions of higher learning were attended by Sisters who were anxious to meet the standards set up by the accrediting agencies.

Part 1 is here. This article will be continued in a third and final segment.

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