Our History: Rooted in the Mystery of the Triune God
The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (SSpSAp i.e. Congregatio Servarum Spiritus Sancti de Adoratione perpetua) was founded by Saint Arnold Janssen on December 8, 1896, in the village of Steyl, Holland with the assistance of Mother Mary Michael, its first Superior General.
Saint Arnold Janssen was a German diocesan priest, who did not plan to be a founder. At first, he only felt called to work for missionary animation in his country. In the course of his work, he saw more and more the great need for Germany to have a society for missionaries. With great faith, he responded to this need by founding such a society himself, the Society of the Divine Word.
Seeing the need not only for missionary priests and brothers but also for missionary women, Saint Arnold founded the Mission Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit. He further saw the need for a third missionary Congregation, to support through prayer and sacrifice the work of his first two foundations. For this, he envisioned a strictly cloistered contemplative community with perpetual adoration and founded the Sister-Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration, more commonly known as the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters. He chose the first members of this foundation from among the members of the active missionary Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit who had volunteered for this branch.
With God’s blessing, the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters took root and began to flourish. It started modestly in 1896 in a separate wing of the missionary Sister’s Sacred Heart Convent, then in 1904 also in a separate wing in their newly built Motherhouse. By 1914, through the efforts of Mother Mary Michael, the cloistered Sisters could have a separate Motherhouse of their own, Holy Spirit Convent, which still exists today in its original structure.
By 1915, Mother Mary Michael was able to found our first convent after the Motherhouse, the Convent of Divine Love in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This foundation came about through an invitation from Archbishop Edmund Francis Prendergast, who desired to have an adoration convent in his archdiocese. A wealthy Catholic layman, Cornelius A. Lane, had bequeathed a generous sum to the archdiocese for the establishment of an adoration convent. Thus the archbishop was in a position to make a generous offer. He would purchase a suitable piece of property, build and furnish a chapel and convent for the Sisters, and could promise to contribute to their support. It was a very favorable offer, which the Congregation could gratefully accept.
In 1915, nine Sisters were sent from Steyl for the first community. Some American women soon applied and were admitted. This necessitated the establishment of a novitiate in the new convent. Several years ago, the novitiate was moved to our convent in St. Louis (Mount Grace Convent), where candidates from all parts of the United States are admitted and trained. Since its earliest years, the Sisters have kept adoration day and night before the Blessed Sacrament, and the people of Philadelphia have very frequently made visits to the chapel, joining the Sisters in prayerful vigil.
In the course of time, more and more adoration convents would be founded by Mother Mary Michael, and after her death by her successors. At present our international religious congregation has 22 Houses in 12 countries and about 420 members in all.
You can find our Houses in Argentina, Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Slovakia, Togo, Chile, and the United States of America.