FSPA originally came to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to help educate Catholic children in the area and to care for orphans.
Early FSPA efforts to educate Catholic immigrant children grew exponentially. Because our sisters felt the need to upgrade their teaching skills by means of formal teacher education, St. Rose Normal School, the forerunner of Viterbo University, was established. Today, Viterbo University thrives as a Catholic, Franciscan, liberal arts university with strong fine arts and professional arts programs.
Earlier sisters also addressed the educational needs of nurses while staffing the first hospital in La Crosse. St. Francis School of Nursing was created in 1901 and continued until the 1970s when it became part of Viterbo College, now Viterbo University (where Sister Laura Nettles, pictured, currently ministers along with several of our affiliates).
Through the years, FSPA have staffed scores of schools around the nation and have provided religious education programs for children and adults, tutoring for new immigrants, and training in many other areas.