History of St. Ann Center

Our history is planted deep in Franciscan values: making peace, reverencing all creation, showing compassion and creating a caring community. The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi brought these values to Milwaukee in 1849 and to St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care 134 years later. Today, this dynamic heritage continues to grow into a ministry with a vision. St. Ann Center—its staff, volunteers, clients and benefactors—live the mission of the Franciscan Sisters, to create a better world for the people in our neighborhoods, communities and around the globe. Whether it’s being and working with children, the frail elderly or adults with disabilities, we strive to be people of faith touching a world in need.

Sister Edna founds St. Ann Adult Day Care

1983 Opening Day

St. Ann Adult Day Care, founded by Sr. Edna Lonergan, opened in the basement of the health center of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi (now Juniper Court).

1987 Remodeling

The adult day care program moved with 30 clients to the newly remodeled Leandra and St. Francis Hall in the basement of St. Francis Convent.

1990 Outpatient Rehabilitation Department opened

1994 First House Raffle fundraiser

1995 Model Project Award from the White House Conference on Aging

1996 Benevolent Touch (BT) Program began

The BT program developed by Sr. Edna teaches caregivers how to enhance the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia or sensory loss due to aging. The use of positive, gentle, nurturing touch ensures the recipient that they are in a safe and caring environment.

1999 Opening of our new intergenerational center

St. Ann Center Building

  • St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care Stein Campus opened at 2801 E. Morgan Ave. on Milwaukee’s south side, and launched the Child Day Center. This intergenerational program began with a mission to serve the underserved and included day services for the whole person—body, mind and spirit.
  • Shepherd House opened. The original St. Ann Center was converted and renamed Shepherd House. Its programs focus on the needs of adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

2001 First Place Service to Seniors Award

from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

2002 Sr. Edna addresses the United Nations

Second World Assembly on Aging in Madrid, Spain, presenting St. Ann Center’s intergenerational model of care.

2003 20th Anniversary of St. Ann Center Adult Day Care

Edna Visits Cameroon

  • Sr. Edna along with members of the community and St. Ann Center staff traveled to Cameroon, Africa, on a mission trip. This led to the creation of the Cameroon Goats and Chickens Fund, aimed at helping some of the world’s poorest people by providing goats and chickens to sustain future generations.


Sister Edna addressed intergenerational concepts and methods in China as a delegate with the People to People Ambassador Program.

2007 Overnight Respite Center Opened

The center’s new addition opened to include a 24-hour overnight respite service, allowing caregivers a worry-free vacation, business trip or time off to rejuvenate. The addition also provided new space for the Ageless Beauty Salon and outpatient rehabilitation.

2008 25th Anniversary Celebration


Sr. Edna was named St. Francis Citizen of the Year by the St. Francis Association of Commerce.


Sr. Edna was a panelist at the Fourth International Conference of the Consortium for Intergenerational Programs in Singapore.

2010-2019 Program of Distinction from Generations United, Washington D.C.

2011 Shepherd House moves to the St. Ann Center location

Bucyrus Campus

2015 Opening of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care Bucyrus Campus

St. Ann Center replicated its model for intergenerational care, building a new center at 2450 W. North Ave. to meet the needs of the near north side community.

2016 – The City of Milwaukee named a Best Intergenerational Community

Award sponsored by Generations United and MetLife Foundation.

Bucyrus Campus was awarded the 2016 State Farm “Building Blocks Award” from the Milwaukee Award for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDI).

Bucyrus Campus was the recipient of a Milwaukee Business Journal 2016 Real Estate Award for “Most Creative Deal” and finalist for the Project of the Year.

Sr. Edna was named 2016 Rotary Person of the Year by the Rotary Club of Milwaukee.