St. Ann’s Society Senior Branch 376 and St. Francis Junior Branch 334 of the FIRST CATHOLIC SLOVAK LADIES ASSOCIATION St. Ann’s Society had its humble beginning at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, then located on Fifth and Walnut Streets, in Milwaukee. At the urging of their pastor, Reverend Paul Siska, 32 enthusiastic Slovak ladies met for the first time on January 22, 1916, for the purpose of forming Branch 376 of the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Union (Zenska Jednota). A formal meeting was held; and Elizabeth Stefanec was elected first President of the Society. Elizabeth Stefanec was the great-grandmother of the current Vice President, Kathleen Dorfner. St. Ann was unanimously accepted as our patroness. As a group of women, we were so much ahead of our time; but Slovak women are known for their courage and willingness to fight and work hard to make life better for their families.
The Junior Order of St. Ann’s Society, St. Francis Branch 334, was established four years later on March 14, 1920; and Bernadine Wandke was elected its first junior secretary.
The newly founded Society experienced a phenomenal growth during the early stages of its existence, as members would bring in new candidates - sometimes as many as a half dozen, to every monthly meeting. Here, they found a niche for themselves. Aside from the financial security which the insurance aspect afforded them, the Society served as a vehicle for developing friendship, camaraderie, and above all, a bond of sisterhood. This Sisterhood is still prevalent in the Society today. The motto “For God and Nation,” universally espoused by the Slovak people, became their motto as well.
Their generosity showed through the unceasing support of St. Stephen’s Church and school, various Slovak institutions and causes, and other religious and secular charities both here and abroad.
We are proud of our past accomplishments and grateful to the dedicated women who selflessly devoted many years, and in some instances, entire lifetimes, to our growth, both financial and in membership.
We are fortunate to be part of the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (the largest Slovak Women’s Fraternal Benefit Society) for over 120 years! We sell life insurance and annuities to Catholics around the country. We boast of a 25% post-mortem benefit on our whole life policies - something no other life insurance organization offers (a $10,000 policy would pay $12,500).
Today, as in our humble beginning, we deeply value our faith in God, our Slovak heritage, and our community. We strive to show our support of all with our many donations to our Church, our Slovak groups and organizations, and our fellow citizens.
We have supported our nation with donations to the Cancer Society, American Kidney Fund, Haiti Earthquake Fund, Hurricane Sandy, Save the Children, Boston Strong, etc., as well as parishes in Slovakia.
We support our youth and are extremely proud of our Tatra Dancers, who represent us as they perform in the States and in Slovakia. We are generous to our less fortunate members and donate to various community organizations. We take the time to visit with our elderly, our religious and the disabled veterans.
Our branch is very active. We hold three luncheon meetings every year – including a great Christmas party, with no charge to the members. We attend the Tri-State St. Ann’s Day celebration (Wisconsin/Illinois/Indiana) without charge to our members. It is this Board’s belief that we are financially secure because our members contributed their time, money and sweat to their branch throughout the years; so it is only fitting that the members should benefit from their contributions.
We have come a long way, but we have never forgotten how we got here! God bless our founders and all past and present members who have cared so deeply about our Slovak heritage, the Wisconsin Federated Slovak Societies, and the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association!
Mary Jo Noyes, President; 414-861-0385
Kathleen Dorfner, Vice President
Daniel Loduha, Secretary
Kathy Valent, Treasurer
Laura Farrell, Junior Branch Secretary
Mary Peterson, Auditor
Betty Novak, Auditor
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