Rev. Edward Francis Daems
In 1851, Fr. Edward Daems, a Crosier priest from Belgium, joined other Crosier missionaries in Little Chute, Wisconsin. He wished to minister among Belgians and other Europeans who had emigrated in search of religious freedom and economic opportunity. In 1852 he moved to Bay Settlement on the Peninsula of Wisconsin. His talent as an educator, pastor, and healer, his missionary zeal, and his example in prayer became widely recognized. In addition to building Holy Cross Church at Bay Settlement he worked to erect 14 chapels in the vast territory that was his parish.
Recognizing that a common education and language would help unite the people who had recently emigrated from different countries, he built a one-room parish school in Bay Settlement in 1865. In need of teachers, he remembered two young women from his parish who had joined the Racine Dominican Sisters. So he appealed to the Dominican Community for Sisters to staff his school. The Dominican Prioress replied that Sisters were unavailable, so Father Daems invited the two women from his parish, Sister Christine Rousseau and Sister Pauline LaPlante, to return from Racine to Bay Settlement and assist him in his ministry. Several months later, the two were joined by another Racine Dominican, Sister Pius Doyle, joined them in February of 1868. Father Daems was a strong supporter of Catholic education as well as of the small new Community of Sisters ministering with him up to the time of his death on February 12, 1879.
Sister Christine Rousseau
Sister Christine was 40 years old when she responded to Fr. Daems' invitation to return from Racine to Bay Settlement. Through her selfless service she helped him reach out to many sick and poor people. Father Daems appointed her as Superior of the Sisters, an office she held for 10 years. She also was Father Daems' good friend and beneficiary. Sister Christine had an intense drive to call forth Gospel living -- to know, love and live like Jesus. She died on March 29, 1900.
Sister Pauline LaPlante
Twenty years younger than her cousin Sister Christine, Sister Pauline was her faithful companion. She was a real missionary and did much good for the adults as well as for the children. Through her kindness and amiability she won back to the Church many who had left for one reason or other. She also visited and comforted the sick. She died on March 15, 1926.
Sister Mary Pius Doyle
Sister Mary Pius, a dedicated educator, was able to communicate with her students at Holy Cross School in several languages. An undaunted leader, she helped provide stability and direction to the newly formed Community of Sisters. From 1884 until 1893 she served as Superior. She died on Christmas Eve of 1911.
Sister Mary Immaculata Van Lanen
Also one of the founding members of the Community, Sister Mary Immaculata helped Sisters Pauline, Christine, and Pius while taking care of her aged father. She taught catechism to Dutch children in their native language and helped at the rectory. She suffered mental confusion as a result of the flu, and was hospitalized from 1891 until her death on March 5, 1921.
Sister Francis Jennings
A daughter of Holy Cross Parish, Sister Francis knew Father Daems personally. She entered our Community in the year after his death. The Sisters, recognizing her pioneering spirit and missionary zeal, put great trust in Sister Francis and elected her to leadership five times. With 15 years of her leadership, the community grew in membership, gained financial stability, and expanded its missionary service to increasing numbers of schools and parishes. Sister Francis had a lasting trust in God. Finally relieved of her duties as Mother Superior because of ill health, she died on December 17, 1908.