The first Benedictine women in America arrived in the United States in 1852 from Saint Walburg's Convent in Eichstatt, Bavaria and settled in Saint Mary's Pennsylvania. A house was opened in Newark, NJ, in 1857. Seven years later the Reverend Henry Lemke, Pastor of Saint Michael's Parish in Elizabeth, requested and received sisters of the Newark community to teach the predominantly German children of Saint Michael's. On September 29, 1864, three Benedictine Sisters, the first sisters of any community to live in the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, began classes for 72 children.
A Community in Elizabeth
In 1868, the Elizabeth sisters became an independent community with Sister Walburga Hock as their first prioress. A year later the new community moved from Saint Michael's parish to a new Saint Walburga Convent built by Father Lemke on Magnolia Avenue. In 1923 the community moved to its present site on North Broad Street and is now known as The Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth at Saint Walburga Monastery.
Mission and Ministry
The work of the Sisters expanded and changed from its original mission to German immigrants. At various points in its 150 year history the community has had mission houses in New Jersey, New York, Washington, DC, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Ecuador. At present the community's ministries are located within New York and New Jersey.
For more information on the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth, please visit their website.