In 1853, Mother
Benedicta Bauer, Prioress of Holy Cross Convent in Regensburg, Germany,
sent four sisters to New York to meet the needs of the German Catholic
immigrants. The sisters first settled in Williamsburg, New York, an area
that is now part of Brooklyn.
Neuhierl, one of the original four who came over from Regensburg, figured
most prominently in our Adrian Dominican story. After six years in America,
she was sent from Williamsburg to open Holy Cross Convent on Second Street
in New York City (later known as the Amityville Dominicans). This convent
became an independent foundation with Mother Augustine as its first prioress.
Seven years later, Mother Augustine received into the congregation a young
Irish woman, Mary Madden, who received the name Sister Camilla and become
an outstanding educator. The foundation in Michigan began with a deathbed
vision of Mother Augustine Neuhierl, first prioress of Second Street,
in which she saw a "peninsula in the west dotted white with Dominican
Scheininger succeeded Mother Augustine as prioress of Holy Cross Convent.
She sent six sisters to Traverse City, Michigan, in 1879, and six sisters
to Adrian in 1880 to open St. Joseph Hospital in the old Elm House. She
later sent sisters to staff two parish schools in Adrian, St. Mary and
St. Joseph. In 1891, Mother Angela Phelan arrived in Adrian from Traverse
City to open the novitiate in what was soon to become the canonically
erected St. Joseph Province, transferred from Traverse City. Mother Angela
was present when six novices received the habit during the first reception
ceremonies in Adrian in May 1892. After returning to New York, Mother
Angela was sent to Washington State.
Madden was appointed the provincial for the new St. Joseph Province in
Adrian in August 1892 and arrived from Traverse City. A risk-taker, Mother
Camilla dreamed of an academy for girls and was overjoyed when the academy's
first four students graduated in 1899. On June 27, 1923, the St. Joseph
Province was separated from the Newburgh Congregation under the title
of Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary. Mother Camilla was named Mother
General and Founder.
Camilla's death in 1924, Mother Augustine Walsh was elected at the first
General Chapter of the Adrian Congregation on July 10, 1924. Congregation
membership numbered 613 when Mother Augustine was re-elected in 1930. She
served until her death in 1933 and was succeeded by Mother Mary Gerald
Barry. During her term, the Congregation witnessed growth and expansion
in its membership and ministries. Mother Gerald was re-elected at the
next four General Chapters, from 1939 to 1957. She died in November 1961.
Genevieve Weber was elected at the Eighth General Chapter in 1962 and
served until 1968. Maria Health Care Center and a new novitiate (Weber
Hall) were erected during this time.