During the 20th century, famine, war, and political turmoil generated global emigration. Lithuania alone lost a quarter million of its predominantly Catholic people. They passed through Ellis Island between 1899 and 1914; many pressed on to the eastern Pennsylvania anthracite region and the mills of Chicago and Pittsburgh. Their labor was cheap; injuries in the mines were common, and lives were impoverished. Clustered together in poor neighborhoods, they were unable to scrape together the resources for their own church or children's religious education.
In Pittsburgh, Rev. John J. Sutkaitis and Rev. Magnus J. Kazenas collaborated with Monsignor Michael L. Krusas, pastor of Chicago's St. George Parish, to convince Lithuanian Sisters in Chicago to minister in Pittsburgh's parishes. In 1922, after years of negotiation, Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale agreed to receive 24 postulates and prepare them to pioneer a new Franciscan congregation - The Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God. Located in the Borough of Whitehall, approximately 6 miles south of downtown Pittsburgh and next to St. Casimir's Cemetery, the sisters built their motherhouse and ancillary buildings over the years. They included a school, which is now a daycare center and retreat houses.
The Sisters established ministries in Lithuania and Brazil. Today many of the Sisters that make up the congregation are natives of Brazil. The Sisters have also renewed their mission to Lithuania after being forced to flee during WWII. The Sisters have also ministered to many schools and and hospitals in the near Midwest and eastern parts of the U.S. as their numbers permit. Today they are still involved in day care, social service, education, pastoral ministry, healthcare, and care for the poor. If you are interested in knowing how you can help or if you want to explore more about religious life, you may contact the Sisters of St. Francis at email@example.com or visit their Web site.