As the years went on, however, what happened in fact was that the sisters continued to maintain, expand, and creatively reconfigure the current buildings. Since our founding, we have made two major additions to the current structures as well as numerous renovations. More than sixty years later, the buildings never meant to be permanent are still our home.
Above: Two-storey cabin with Governor’s mansion added on.
Left: Foundresses with friends of the community at the dedication of the chapel addition built in 1965.
Founding of Valley of Our Lady Monastery.
First major addition: chapel and new wing.
Second major addition: bakery and new wing.
Relocation project initiated.
First capital campaign.
Property purchased for site of new monastery.
Second capital campaign launched.
IN EARLY 2000, with the 50th anniversary of our foundation approaching, we initiated a re-location effort. Shortly thereafter we conducted a modest capital campaign, which raised sufficient funds for new property and part of the necessary design work. During the campaign, a couple from Highland donated property; we accepted but later returned it due to incompatibility with project requirements.
In 2011, after evaluating hundreds of parcels of land, we settled on a 229-acre farm in Iowa County for the new location. From 2002-2015, we worked on and off, as our community life permitted, with multiple design professionals and a variety of other consultants.
IN 1957, six Cistercian sisters came to Wisconsin from the Cistercian abbey of Frauenthal in Switzerland with their Abbot General’s blessing and at the request of Bishop William O’Connor of the Diocese of Madison.
The way is long, the way is far, but God is with us, so we are not afraid.
Mother Magdalen, Foundress
THEY SETTLED in a mixture of buildings that already had quite a colorful history: Beginning as a stone cabin built in 1859 by one of the earliest pioneer settlers in the area, it had received an upgrade in 1921 when the governor of Wisconsin built a two-story, white, pillared addition, making it into his summer residence.
THE FOUNDRESSES never intended for the buildings to be a permanent monastery; they hoped that once the young foundation began to attract American vocations, the project of building a permanent monastery might be undertaken.