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International Institute Gets $150K Donation From Sisters Who Founded School For Immigrants

Provided | The International Institute of St. Louis
The International Institute of St. Louis received a $150,000 donation from the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O'Fallon, Missouri.

The Sisters of the Most Precious Blood in O’Fallon, Missouri, is celebrating the 150th anniversary since immigrating to the U.S. with a fitting donation. 

The sisters gave $150,000 to the International Institute of St. Louis, which occupies a building in south St. Louis that was once St. Elizabeth Academy, a school founded by the sisters.

International Institute CEO and President Anna E. Crosslin said she was surprised by the size of the donation but not the sisters' generosity.

“They’ve been quietly educating so many of the young women here in St. Louis for over 100 years,” Crosslin said.

The donation amount honors the 150th anniversary of the sisters emigrating from Switzerland to the U.S in 1870. Twelve years later, the nuns founded St. Elizabeth Academy to teach immigrant girls in the region. 

The academy closed its doors in 2013 due to low enrollment. A year later, the International Institute acquired the building. Even after the school closed, Crosslin said, the sisters are still carrying out their mission.

“They didn’t just sell us a building and leave, but they made a commitment when they did it to continue to provide education for young immigrant women, in fact, for all immigrants, through the International Institute," Crosslin said. “And we’ve had sisters since then who have volunteered particularly in our education program.”

In recent years, the sisters have had to leave behind many of their ministries including St. Mary’s Academy and College as well as St. Elizabeth’s Adult Day Care centers. In a statement, Sister Janice Bader, the president of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, said the move was tough.

"When we left each of these ministries, we committed ourselves to using the funds from these ministries not for ourselves, but for service to others,” Bader said. “While we no longer have the youthful energy of our first pioneer sisters, our zeal for service has not diminished.”

Crosslin said the funds will be used to continue what the sisters started. 

“Here we are all these years later, and the International Institute is educating the next generation of immigrants, so that in a way we are in fact continuing their mission,” she said. 

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Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.