That all may know Jesus Christ and through Him come to Eternal Life

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Congregation's History

In August of 1878, upon his request, he was granted permission to study in languages in Rome- German clerical College of Campo Santo. This was 1878- 1879. He was very good in his studies of languages.

Jordan, even before he was ordained was already filled with religious zeal and wanted to give himself totally to God. Such that he kept asking himself how can he best serve God’s interests. By January 1878, he wrote in his diary to pray more for enlightenment. It was this year that he was thinking of some project. On February 14 1878, he marked in his diary: “Instruction, instruction, do what you have in mind, if it be the will of God.” He had in mind an institute such that in June- July 1878, he was deeply discerning. In October of the same year, Jordan already had “the firm purpose to found an institute that should be concerned in a special way with the diffusion of Christian education.”

Jordan decided to go to the East to perfect his oriental languages. On January 9, 1880, he wrote that his vocation to found the society is morally certain but told himself to pray very much. He visited Egypt, Holy Land, Lebanon and other places. On Mt. Carmel, Jordan wrote in his diary, “Carry out your project with all energy and do solely for the glory of God.”

(1880) Jordan obtained the blessing of Pope Leo XIII regarding his foundation. He devoted himself totally to this and was called Apostolic Teaching Society. Apostolic because the members will imitate the apostles to leave everything in following the Savior and engage in the world of apostolate. Teaching – for the purpose of disseminating the Savior’s teachings: This is eternal life, to know you the one true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (Jn.17: 3) The patroness will be the mother of God, Queen of the Apostles.

Jordan associated himself with Ludwig Auer for the purpose of wanting to start and begin a printing office. He also met a secular priest who would become his chief support in his foundation:  Bernard Luethen who would later become Bonaventure Luethen. Luethen was a gifted man as editor of a periodical for priests under Mr. Auer of Cassianeum, an institute devoted to Catholic press. On  July 22, 1881, Luethen left and joined Jordan. Thus, a German magazine was born: Der Missionär (The Missionary) in September 1881. In it were written the 3 objectives of the new Society: make Catholic Christians truly catholic; inspire and direct Catholics to courageously and intelligently defend their faith; and train missionaries to sent to other lands.

The center of the Society was Rome. Jordan wanted to put his institute on a firm basis. Later, another priest joined him, Frederick von Leonhardi, a former officer in the German army. Thus on December 8, 1881 in Sta. Brigita in Rome, the two made their private vows: Luethen for 3 years and Leonhardi forever. They recognized in Jordan his authority and to submit to him. Between the two, it was Luethen who remained faithful with Jordan in the society. He did much to introduce the Society thru the magazine to Germany and other places.

In November of 1882, a change of name was made. It was now Catholic Teaching Society. By 1884, the society has assumed the character of a religious congregation. But it has not received formal ecclesiastical approbation yet.

Now let Theresa von Wüllenweber come into the picture. Born on Feb. 19, 1833, eldest among 5 girls, she was a baroness living in a castle, Myllendonk. On April 12, 1882, Therese read an advertisement of the Apostolic Teaching Society. April 25, she wrote to Fr. Luethen. That simple ad awakened the zeal and ardor in Therese. On July 4, 1882- Fr. Jordan and Therese met for the first time.  She felt a strong desire to belong to the society.  Thus, Therese became the first woman member of the 1st degree of the society (to defend and propagate the faith-religious instructions).  (The 2nd degree were composed of scientists and scholars= devote in the literary and scientific efforts of the society;  and the 3rd were those who strive to carry out their duties in the spirit of the society.

There were many things that happened between 1882 and 1888. There was a woman congregation founded by Jordan. Sisters of the Catholic Teaching Society. This was on March 18, 1883 under the leadership of Amalia Streitel or Mother Frances Streitel who was a former Franciscan. She led the sisters in a very strict, cloistered life, something not intended by Jordan.

Between 1885- 1888 preparations were made until a new congregation of women was founded: on December 8, 1888 in Tivoli, near Rome. The first members were Maria Theresa of the Apostles (Therese von Wullenweber) with two others: Maria Hopfenmuller – as Sr. Scholastica and Margaretha Rheinwald as Sr. Clara. Since Mother Mary was from a well to do family, she had inheritance/ share which she contributed much to help in the financial needs of the community.

Society: On January 17, 1890- Fr. Jordan sent the first missionaries to Assam led by Fr. Otto Hopfenmuller. There was another young priest and 2 brothers. As it has always been in any beginning, so many difficulties and challenges.

By 1892, Jordan started foundations in the USA and Austria.

1893- Colombia ; 1894- Switzerland; 1895- Czeckoslovakia; Brazil- 1896; Romania- 1898; Belgium, Poland and Yugoslavia- 1900; England- 1901; Germany- 1915. During his lifetime, Fr. Jordan established the Society in 14 different countries.

Sisters: 1890-1891 Assam; 1893- Ecuador; 1895- Wisconsin, USA and Switzerland; 1896- italy;  1898- Torri near Rome ; Hungary- and Vienna 1899; -1905- Belgium; and by 1907- there were already 240 sisters!

Note that only in 1893 that the new name was given to the society: the Society of the Divine Savior or Societas Divini Salvatoris. (for the Church authorities, Catholic T. S. and Apostolic T. S. sounded too much like the Church itself!) It was a blessing in disguise to have a new name because it means that the society no longer took its name from its activities but from its highest ideal- the SAVIOR!.

Also, only in 1902 that the Sisters’ Congregation was given the name: Sisters of the Divine Savior. (Sorores Divine Salvatoris)


Note the following significant dates:

  • 1892- 1st papal approbation request made by Jordan but not granted. Norms were set to be followed of which the society did not meet the requirements, constitution had to be revised.
  • 1904- initial granting of the Holy See- Decree of Praise
  • March 8, 1911- final approbation of the society by the Holy See.(Pope Pius X)
  • Dec. 10, 1911- Fr. Luethen died at 65. During the Chapter, He had received the honor of being the next in rank to the general superior to the end of his life and be subject to Jordan alone.
  • Sept. 8, 1918- Fr. Jordan died at 71.
  • Dec. 25, 1907- Mother Mary of the Apostles died at 74
  • 1902- 1st general chapter of the sds (society) The Chapter is a necessary part of the inner organization of every rel.igious congregation. Delegates are chosen from the society and elect the general superior and councilors. It is a time for consultation and decision making for matters of importance. Jordan was elected , for life.
  • 1905- 1st general chapter of the sisters;
  • 1888- 1907- Mother Mary was superior general
  • 1908- 2nd general chapter
  • Oct. 8, 1915- 3rd general chapter – war broke out
  • August 26, 1926 - Final papal approbation of the Sisters’ congregation
  • December 1943- beatification process was first introduced
  • October 13, 1968-beatification of Blessed Mary of Apostles

You maybe probably ask me. What about the laity. The laity were already involved in the Church even before Jordan. E.g. Katholikentag or other organizationd doing service to the church. The involvement of the laity  by Jordan was not simply a response to kulturkampf . He probably realized that any organization providing religious instructions particularly on a broad basis, had to include the laity.