St. Florian parish was originally a Capuchin mission of Holy Cross parish. On December 18, 1911, Archbishop Messmer officially recognized the organization of a new parish under the patronage of St. Florian, reflecting the Austrian heritage of West Milwaukee. The first Mass of the new parish was celebrated on December 25, 1911.
The Capuchins could not staff the new parish, and the small parish could not support the diocesan priest assigned to it. In an effort to preserve the community at St. Florian, lay leaders of the parish approached the Discalced Carmelite Friars at Holy Hill. Finally when all the necessary agreements and permissions were given, the Carmelites came to St. Florian on April 20th, 1913. Fr. Augustine Hamers, O.C.D. was prior of the new community, and he dedicated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sacred Heart Monastery and the Washington Province
Originally, the Sacred Heart Monastery at St. Florian in West Milwaukee was the novitiate house of the future Washington Province. Today the community hosts the postulancy program of the Washington Province. The monastery also houses several provincial offices and provides staffing for mission fund raising.
Pastoral care for the sick and elderly is a top priority for the friars. In the general area of West Milwaukee and West Allis, there are many assisting-living facilities, nursing homes, and several major hospitals.
For Catholics in West Milwaukee, friars provide a monthly morning of recollection, spiritual direction, and the pastor’s weekly column in the parish bulletin is also widely read on the Internet.
In addition, friars here engage in Secular Order ministry, ministry to Discalced Carmelite Nuns, and to the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, and assisting from time to time in some of the ministry of Holy Hill. Members have contributed to Spiritual Life Online and to the Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS) in Washington.