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The Third Order of Saint Francis, historically known as the Order of Penance of Saint Francis, is a third order within the Franciscan movement of the Catholic Church. It includes both congregations of vowed men and women, and fraternities of men and women living standard lives in the world, married most of the time.
It has been believed that the Third Order of Saint Francis was the oldest of all third orders, but historical evidence does not support this. Similar institutions are found in documentation of some monastic orders in the 12th century. In addition, a third order has been found among the Humiliati, confirmed together with its rule by Pope Innocent III in 1201.
In 1978, the Third Order of Saint Francis was reorganised and given a new Rule of Life by Pope Paul VI. With the new rule, the name used by the secular branch of the order was changed to the Secular Franciscan Order.
Tertiaries, (from the Latin tertiarius, relative to "third") or what is known as "Third Orders", are those persons who live according to the Third Rule of religious orders, either in a religious community or outside of a monastery in the world. The idea which forms the basis of this institute is in general that persons who on account of certain circumstances cannot enter a religious order, strictly so-called, may, nevertheless, as far as possible enjoy the advantages and privileges of religious orders.
There are differing opinions as to the origins of the Third Order of St. Francis. According to church historians Karl Müller (Church historian)Mandonnet, and others, the Secular Third Order is a survival of the original ideal of Francis of Assisi, i.e., a lay confraternity of penitents from which the First and Second Orders of the Friars Minor and the Poor Clares have been detached. Another group of scholars believe that St. Francis' name became associated with pre-existing penitential lay-confraternities, without his having any special connection with or influence on them. Thomas of Celano and others held that Francis did indeed found a Third Order and gave it a Rule.(Die Anfänge des Minoritenordens und der Bussbruderschaften),
The preaching of St. Francis, as well as his example, exercised such a powerful attraction on people that many married men and women wanted to join the First or the Second Order, but this being incompatible with their state of life, Francis found a middle way and gave them a rule animated by the Franciscan spirit. In the composition of this rule St. Francis was assisted by his friend Cardinal Ugolino, (later Pope Gregory IX).
As to the place where the Third Order was first introduced nothing certain is known. The preponderance of opinion is for Florence, chiefly on the authority of Mariano of Florence, or Faenza, who cites the first papal bull known on the subject(Regesta pontificum). The less authoritative Fioretti assigns Cannara, a small town two hours' walk from the Portiuncula, as the birthplace of the Third Order. Mariano and the Bull for Faenza (16 December 1221) suggest that 1221 was the earliest date for founding of the Third Order. Thomas of Celano wrote that the oldest preserved rule was dated 1221.
This rule contained originally twelve chapters; a thirteenth was added under Pope Gregory IX (1227). Among other things, it prescribes simplicity in dress, considerable fasting and abstinence, and the canonical office or other prayers instead. Because of the prohibition of bearing arms, the followers of this rule came into conflict with local authorities, which customarily required men to carry arms for service in militias.
In the 13th century, there were Third Order Confraternities with local variations. In 1289 Pope Nicholas IV confirmed the rule in the bull Supra montem. The rule published and approved by Pope Nicholas IV was substantially the same as the oldest 1221 text. Nicholas IV introduced unity of rule and of direction into the Third Order, which was put under the care of the Friars Minor.
By the 15th century, numerous individuals living under the Rule of the Third Order were living in small communities, many leading an eremetical life (cf. Celano). They had been living under the same rule as the married penitents who led more routine forms of life. A papal decree of 1447 organized the more isolated communities into a new and separate religious Order with its own Rule of Life. From that point, members were defined either as Third Order Regular (T.O.R.; i.e. living under a Regula or "Rule"), or as the Third Order Secular, for those members of the Order who lived in the world. In the later centuries of the Franciscan movement, the Order of Regular Tertiaries was considered as equivalent to the friars of the First Order.
The influence of the Franciscan Third Order Secular upon the society of medieval Europe was significant. The prohibition against carrying arms dealt a blow to the feudal system and to the ever-fighting factions of Italian municipalities. The admission to the Order of members from all stations in life on an equal basis helped to promote social change and equality of opportunity in a period of rigid social stratification.
Clement VII in 1526 and Pope Paul III in 1547 mitigated the rule on fasts and abstinence, but the Rule as given by Nicholas IV (ca. 1290) was essentially unchanged. In 1883, Pope Leo XIII, himself a tertiary, through the Apostolic Constitution Misericors Dei Filius, modified the text, adapting it more to the modern state and needs of the society, although the substantial points remained. Members of the Order gather in ecclesiastical communities which are called fraternities. The direction was entrusted to the three branches of the First Order: Friars Minor, Conventuals, Capuchins, and to the Regular Third Order.
The Third Order of St. Francis was established by the Friars Minor Recollects at Quebec in 1671, and some years later at Three Rivers and Montreal. After the cession of Canada to England in 1763 following the French defeat in the Seven Years' War, the Third Order, deprived of its directors, seemed to have gradually disappeared.
It was re-established about 1840 by Mgr. Ignatius Bourget, Bishop of Montreal. Noted naturalist L'Abbé Léon Abel Provancher was particularly active. In 1866, he established a fraternity in his parish at Portneuf Quebec, and promoted the Third Order by his writings. For two years he edited a review, in which he published nearly every month an article on the Third Order, or answered questions pertaining thereto. In 1881 Blessed Friar Frédéric Janssoone was sent to Canada, where he gave new spirit to the Third Order, inaugurating and visiting fraternities.
Shortly afterward Leo XIII published his Encyclicals on the Third Order, the Canadian bishops, wishes, recommended the Third Order to their clergy and faithful. The foundation of a community of Friars Minor at Montreal in 1890 inaugurated a new era of growth for the Third Order. As of 2016 there were over 5,000 active members in approximately 200 fraternities.
Little is known of the Third Order in Great Britain in prior to the Reformation. In 1385 there were 8 fraternities in the British Isles. Fr. William Staney was the first commissary of the order in England after the Dissolution. He wrote "A Treatise of the Third Order of St. Francis", published at Douai in 1617. Alice Ingham became a member of the lay society the third order of St Francis in 1872. she later went on to found the Sisters of St. Joseph's Society for Foreign Missions. In 1877 the English Franciscans initiated publication of The Franciscan Annual and monthly bulletin of the Third Order. A national conference of British tertiaries with a view to strengthening and consolidating the order, was held in 1898 at Liverpool. A second national conference was held at Leeds.
As in other regions, the members of the Order are now self-governing, under the auspices of a National Fraternity. In Britain, the National Fraternity is made up of nine regional fraternities. In Scotland, here are fraternities in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness.
The Third Order was active in Dublin during the medieval period. There were tertiaries assisting the Conventual Franciscans at Drogheda in 1855. Although the friary closed in 2000, the Secular Franciscans continue to meet in Drogheda. A renewal of the Third Order in Dublin began around 1860. Merchants Quay was later turned into a Third Order Centre with rooms where tertiaries could meet and relax. A fraternity was established by the Capuchins in Cork in 1866, another in Kilkenny.
In the late nineteenth century the Irish Franciscans produced the Irish Franciscan Tertiary, a monthly journal for the Third Order Franciscans. Six hundred tertiaries met in Dublin in 1971 to celebrate the seven hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the order. As of 2014, Secular Franciscans in Ireland numbered over 1200.
Early Franciscan missionaries established fraternities in the Southern and Southwestern states, where there was extensive French and Spanish Catholic influence. A fraternity was established at Santa Fe before 1680. Another fraternity operated in New Mexico almost from the time of the Reconquest (1692–1695), as reported by the Father Guardian (custos), José Bernal, dated Santa Fe, 17 September 1794. It is likely that a confraternity was founded at St. Augustine, Florida, before the close of the 16th century, as this was the first Spanish settlement in what is now the United States. One was established at San Antonio, Texas, before the middle of the 18th century. The establishment of provinces of the order of Friars Minor brought about the establishment of many confraternities. In 1919 a number of friar provincials decided to set up a national organization.
With the approval of a new Rule in 1978, the fraternities were reorganized as an independent arm of the Franciscan Movement. The National Fraternity of the United States was formed and divided into thirty regions. As of 2016, there are over 12,000 Secular Franciscans in the United States.
The Secular Franciscans Oceania is the National Fraternity for Australia, Papua New Guinea, Sabah, and Singapore. New Zealand has its own National Fraternity.
Membership of the Secular Franciscan Order includes lay men and women as well as diocesan priests. A number of Popes have been members of this Order. Professed members use the letters OFS after their name in line with the official name of the Order.
The current rule was given by Pope Paul VI in 1978 with the Apostolic letter Seraphicus Patriarcha. It is designed to adapt the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Church in the conditions of changing times.
Under this new Rule, the tertiaries of the Franciscan movement were set up as an autonomous Order, with their own Minister General as head of the Order. They were removed from the jurisdiction of the friars of the First Order and of the Third Order Regular. In 1990 a new set of Constitutions were written and approved by the General Chapter of the Order held in Madrid, Spain, to clarify issues related to the revised Rule. In A.D. 2000, the appropriate agencies of the Catholic Church, in the name of Pope John Paul II, gave the official approval to the final form of the Constitutions, with an effective date of 8 February 2001. The Order is now known as the Secular Franciscan Order (abbreviated as O.F.S.) The Secular Franciscan Order is a fully recognized order within the Catholic church and part of the Franciscan family. The present active membership of the Order worldwide is about 350,000.
A summary of the elements of Franciscan spirituality, includes living in communion with Christ poor and crucified, in the love of God, and in brother/sisterhood with all people and all of creation.
The Third Order Regular Franciscans developed in the early 13th century from the convergence of groups of penitents, who were inspired by the life of Saint Francis. Sometime between 1209 and 1220, Saint Francis communicated with some of these groups through a series of letters entitled the "Exhortations to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance".
It was not until the 15th century that there developed single well-ordered religious communities with solemn vows and a common head. In the 15th century there were numerous independent male congregations of regular tertiaries with the three vows in Italy, Sicily, Dalmatia, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, and in the Netherlands. The Obregonians, or the "Minim Congregation of Poor Brothers Infirmarians", were a small Spanish Roman Catholic congregation of men dedicated to the nursing care of the sick. The congregation ceased to exist around the time of the Peninsular War.
The Congregation of the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis was founded Christmas Day 1857, at Aachen by John Hoever for the protection and education of poor, homeless boys, In 1866, it was introduced into the United States, where orphanages for boys were established in Teutopolis, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Cincinnati, Ohio (1868) and Cold Spring, Kentucky (1869), through the generosity of Sarah Worthington Peter. By 1998, through the steady retirement and departure of members, total membership of the American province sank to 24 professed members dispersed across several assignments at schools, prisons and hospitals. The Morris School for Boys, established in 1922 near Searcy, Arkansas, continues to be the brothers' primary ministry. The order's motherhouse remains in Aachen and the order maintains houses in Brazil, Holland and the United States.
The Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross (FFSC) were founded by Brother James Wirth in 1862 in Hausen, Germany, to care for orphans, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. In 1891, three Brothers settled in Bad Kreuznach, where they eventually took over a local hospital, now known as St. Marienwörth. The Brothers were invited to come to the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois in 1928 to establish a Monastery and a Trade School. They believed very strongly that young men should learn skills that would enable them to obtain gainful employment. St. James Trade School operated from 1930 to 1972. As master craftsmen, they worked at laying the foundation of an industrial trade school. They later developed "Brother James Court", an intermediate care facility for the developmentally disabled licensed by the State of Illinois, which serves as an integral part of the state's continuum of care for meeting the needs of the developmentally disabled. St. Joseph's motherhouse is in Hausen.
These Capuchin Tertiary Friars of Our Lady of Sorrows, and more commonly as the Amigonian Friars, were founded in Spain in 1889 by the Capuchin Friar Luis Amigó y Ferrer, later bishop, in Spain. They were established through Amigó's desire to help the young boys he saw caught up in the Spanish penal system. They soon established reform schools and trade schools to help these boys. In 1986 they took over the administration of two youth facilities in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Franciscan Brothers Mountbellew, the Irish congregation of Brothers from which the friars of the T.O.R. sprang, has maintained a presence in the U.S. since the 1950s. Originally working both in the Bronx, New York and California, they now serve only on the West Coast.
Secular tertiaries existed in Ireland as early as 1385. By 1441 brothers of the Third Order Regular were established at Clonfert, Killala and Tuam. In the fifteenth century there were about forty friaries of TOR Friars in Ireland, made up of both clerics and non-clerical members. The friars served the spiritual needs of the local people in their friaries and churches and in the surrounding parishes. They supported themselves by farming the nearby land. Each friary held a school. The friaries were abolished with the Reformation, yet a few individual friars remained, although clandestine.
The Franciscan Brothers of the Third Order Regular, secretly taught the boys of the Catholic population of Ireland for decades in the underground "bog schools". The Order did not formerly re-emerge again in Ireland until the early 1800s at Merchant's Quay in Dublin with a group of secular tertiaries of the Friar Minor's church of Adam and Eve. The first Third Order Regular friary was established in Milltown in 1818, with the second being opened at Dalkey. In 1820 they transferred their monastery from Milltown to Mountbellew in County Galway, where the Bellew family had invited them and donated land and a house to get established. The Brothers ran a free primary school and specialized in trade schools for young men. The brothers at Mountbellew taught catechism, Gaelic, and established an agricultural school. In 1992 there were about fifty members.
In the course of the nineteenth century, Brothers from the Irish communities established foundations in the United States, which became independent Institutes in their own right. In 1957, Brothers from Ireland began work in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. As an Institute of Pontifical Right, they also work in Kenya and Uganda in education and agriculture.
In the mid 19th century, in response to the request from bishops in the United States, Brothers from the community at Mountbellew traveled to the United States to minister as teachers and established permanent foundations in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and Brooklyn, New York, and Spaulding, Nebraska.
There are two provinces in the United States: The Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Loretto, Pennsylvania, and the Province of the Immaculate Conception, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. The Sacred Heart Province focused its efforts on education and developed what is now Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA, and what is now Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, OH. The Province of the Immaculate Conception was formed out of the need to serve Italian immigrants who came to Pennsylvania to work on the railroad, in the mines, and steel mills. In 1847, the community in Pennsylvania became an independent diocesan congregation under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Pittsburgh.
Eventually, the communities in Pennsylvania and Nebraska were permitted by their bishops to seek consolidation with the friars of the Third Order Regular, by then based in Rome. Papal permission was granted and in 1908, the two communities were incorporated into the Order and in 1910 were established as the autonomous American Province of the Sacred Heart of the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular. In 1920, the Province divided and the Province of the Immaculate Conception were established. The office of the Minister General is in Rome, near the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian.
In 1858 Bishop John Loughlin issued an invitation to the Brothers of the monastery in Roundstone, County Galway, to operate schools for the boys of the Diocese of Brooklyn. A group of six Brothers, soon arrived and opened St. Francis Monastery and St. Francis Academy (now the site of St. Francis College), the first Catholic school in Brooklyn. The monastery served as the base of operations for the Brothers as they spread out over the City of Brooklyn in their ministry of education. In 1989, Pope John Paul II raised the congregation to one of Pontifical Right, making them independent of the local bishop, almost entirely subject only to the Holy See. As a result, they have begun to serve in other parts of the United States. As of 2016 the Brothers minister in schools, parishes, and other pastoral ministries of the Catholic Church in the Dioceses of Brooklyn, Rockville Centre, Paterson, New Jersey and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Founded in Poland in 1888, this congregation of Brothers focuses on medical care. They established a longterm medical care facility in the U.S. in 1927 to extend their service. Located in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, they now operate a hospital and nursing home for mentally disadvanted men and boys, as well as Price Memorial Hall, a nursing home open to both men and women.
There were also congregations of religious sisters of the Third Order; for instance, the Grey Sisters of the Third Order, serving in hospitals, spread in France and the Netherlands. In 1403 Blessed Elizabeth of Reute and several other young women who were Franciscan tertiaries, under the guidance of Dom Konrad Kügelin, provost of the Canonry of St. Peter in Waldsee, acquired a house in Reute on the outskirts of Waldsee. This community was a proto-monastery of the Order, as tertiaries of the mendicant orders had not yet been allowed to profess vows.
Angelina of Marsciano is generally credited with the founding of the Third Order Regular for women around 1403, as her religious congregation marked the establishment of the first Franciscan community of women living under the Rule of the Third Order Regular authorized by Pope Nicholas V. Unlike the Second Order of the Franciscan movement, the Poor Clare nuns, they were not an enclosed religious order, and lived under the authority of the local bishop of the diocese.
The history of the Third Order of St. Francis had a range of organizational models. Some monasteries were established to pursue the purely contemplative life, usually in an urban setting; others communities of women did not embrace the enclosure, but considered active works of charity, tending to the poor and sick, as part of their Franciscan charism.
The Little Franciscans of Mary, were founded at Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1889, and established their motherhouse in Baie-St-Paul, Quebec, in 1891. As of 2016, the Little Franciscans of Mary work in Quebec, the United States, Madagascar, and Haiti in the fields of education, health care, social work and pastoral ministry.
The Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa (OSF) were founded in 1952 by Mother Mary Kevin of the Sacred Passion (born Theresa Kearney, County Wicklow, Ireland) as an offshoot from the Mill Hill Sisters, with the purpose of focusing on the African missions. The motherhouse is located near Dundalk, Ireland
The Congregation of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart was founded in 1861 in Gemona del Friuli, Udine, Italy by Venerable Father Gregory Fioravanti, O.F.M., inspired by and with the collaboration of Lady Laura Laroux, Duchess of Bauffremont. In 1865, at the request of the Franciscan Fathers, three Sisters came to the parish of St. Francis of Assisi, New York City to serve the immigrants, the orphans, and the poor. The motherhouse is in Peekskill, New York. In 1933 the sisters founded Ladycliff College in Highland Falls, New York, next to the United States Military Academy at West Point. When the college closed in 1980, the Academy acquired the property. It now houses the Academy's museum.
The Franciscan Sisters of Penance and Christian Charity is an international congregation founded in 1835 in Heythuysen, Netherlands, by Catherine Damen (Mother Magdalen) to care for neglected children. The Sisters from the German province arrived in New York City in 1874 at the request of the German Jesuits of St. Michael's parish in Buffalo, New York, where there was a great need for German-speaking sisters to teach the young of the expanding German population on Buffalo's east side. In 1939, the North American province was divided into three separate provinces. Since 1992, the three U.S. provinces have sponsored a mission in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico.
The Sisters of the Holy Cross Menzingen is a Swiss Foundation established in 1844 by Capuchin Theodosius Florentini and Maria Heimgartner (Mother Bernarda. In 1902 the sisters came to England, where they opened a school in Wimbleton. They operate Holy Cross Preparatory School for girls in Kingston, but have also expanded their ministry beyond education. The provincial house is in New Malden.
The Franciscan Sisters of the Five Wounds was founded in 1868 when Bishop Herbert Vaughan received a group of Anglican Franciscan Sisters living in Hammersmith, led by Mother Mary Francis of the Five Wounds (Mary Eliza Basil) into the Roman Catholic Church. In 1881, five Sisters of the Five Wounds went to the United States at the invitation of Cardinal James Gibbon, the Archbishop of Baltimore, to care for the many homeless African American children of that city. This latter group later became the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore (OSF).
The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St. Joseph (F.M.S.J.) were founded in 1883 by Alice Ingham and companions. With the motherhouse at Mill Hill, London, they more commonly known as the Mill Hill Sisters. In the Diocese of Salford they serve in various ministries including Caritas, and the Cornerstone Day Center. The sisters also serve in Kenya, Uganda, The Netherlands, Ireland, Ecuador and the U.S.A. The congregation was introduced into the United States in 1952. The Provincial Motherhouse is in Albany, New York.
The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (more commonly known as the Franciscan Sisters of Glasgow) were founded in Glasgow in 1847 by Sisters Adelaide Vaast and Veronica Cordier from the Franciscan Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels, in Tourcoing, France in response to a request from Father Peter Forbes for sisters to teach the poor children of the parishes. Besides their work in education, the sisters are involved in parish ministry, social work and health care in England, Ireland, the US, Rome, Nigeria, and Kenya.
The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (F.M.M.) were founded in 1877 in Ootacamund, India by Hélène de Chappotin de Neuville. As of 2016, there are almost 8,300 sisters in 75 countries, including Canada and England and the United States, where they sponsor the Cardinal Hayes Home in Millbrook, New York, for developmentally challenged individuals. There are five communities of FMM in Scotland.
In 1849, six men and six women, members of the Third Order Secular, came from Bavaria at the invitation of Bishop John Martin Henni to serve the German-speaking population of the area. The women soon desired to form a formal religious community. To this end, Constitutions was compiled for them by the Bishop's assistant, the Rev. Michael Heiss in 1853, and the Sisters were constituted as the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. In 1856, they were assigned by Bishop Henni to perform domestic work at the seminary he had founded for German-speaking seminarians in Milwaukee. In 1864 the sisters and their newly elected leader, Mother Antonia Herb, established the motherhouse at St. Coletta Convent in Jefferson, Wisconsin. The Sisters there confirmed their desire to teach, and introduced the practice of Perpetual Adoration. By 1868, Heiss had become the first Bishop of LaCrosse, Wisconsin and invited the Sisters to move their motherhouse there, which happened in 1871. In 1873, Mother Antonia directed the Sisters in Milwaukee to cease the domestic work and to relocate to LaCrosse. Thirty-seven Sisters chose to remain due to their desire to continue serving at the seminary, and they petitioned to form a separate congregation. They became the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. The community in LaCrosse became known as the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
Among the sisters' ministries are St Ann Center, an intergenerational care center; Cardinal Stritch University (formerly St. Clare College); and St. Coletta's, a facility for persons with developmental disabilities. The motherhouse of the congregation is in St. Francis, Wisconsin.
Founded in England in 1868 as the Franciscan Sisters of the Five Wounds by Mother Mary Francis Basil, sisters arrived in the United States in 1881 to served the African-American population of the region, and became The Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore (OSF). The sisters operated an orphanage until 1950, ran a school for children with special needs, and taught in parochial schools on the East Coast. In 2001, the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore merged with the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. As of 2016 there are about 340 sisters in the combined community, which continues their ministries in Baltimore.
The congregation traces is roots to 1849 and the original community formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bishop Henni asked the sisters to undertake the domestic management of the recently established seminary. When Father Michael Heiss of Milwaukee became Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse in 1869, the Sisters were invited to move their motherhouse to that city, which move was accomplished in 1871. In La Crosse, under the authority of Heiss, the Sisters become educators. Those who chose to remain in the Seminary ministry became the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, while the sisters based in LaCrosse became known as the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The practice of Perpetual Adoration they had sought to introduce as part of their community's life was authorized in 1878. This congregation was affiliated to the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Pope Pius X, on 6 December 1911, gave it its definite approbation.
The motherhouse is at St. Rose of Viterbo Convent, La Crosse, Wisconsin. As of 2011, there are about 275 Sisters in the Congregation. They serve as teachers, health care workers and pastoral assistants in 31 dioceses of the United States, as well as in Canada, Mexico and Zimbabwe, and Africa. They share with the other two congregations stemming from the same founders in mentoring the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis - Cameroon in Africa.
The congregation was founded in 1973, by fifty-five Sisters of the Wisconsin Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. From 1976 to 2004, the Sisters operated the ferry terminal and store on Shaw Island, part of the San Juan Islands in the state of Washington. Based in Meriden, Connecticut, as of 2014, the community had thirteen centers around the world, including the United States, Jerusalem, Rome and Assisi. The Sisters teach at universities, work in hospitals, operate a school in Bethlehem and work at the Vatican.
Congregation with motherhouse at Oldenburg, Indiana. Founded in 1851 by Mother Theresa Hackelmeier (1827–1860), who braved the journey to the United States from a convent in Vienna, Austria, alone, after her companion chose to return. They had set out at the request of the Rev. Francis Joseph Rudolf, the pastor in Oldenburg. His goal was the care and education of the German-speaking children in his parish and the many children left orphaned by a large cholera outbreak in 1847. Three other women soon joined her and the foundation for a new congregation was laid. Its rules and constitutions were soon approved by the Holy See.
Indiana had established state support of community-based schools before her arrival, so education became a major focus of the small community, both in Oldenburg, and quickly in other local communities. By the time of Mother Theresa's untimely death in 1860, the community had already established a mission in St. Louis, Missouri as well having to rebuild their convent after a devastating fire in 1857. By the 1890s they had spread out to schools in Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and Kansas as well. In 1892 they established their first school for African-American children in a segregated Indianapolis.
In the 20th century, their work extended to Native Americans and overseas to Papua New Guinea and Korea. As of 2012 there were 235 Sisters in the congregation serving the poor in the Appalachian Mountains, those on Indian reservations and in inner cities. Additionally, they serve in pastoral care at parishes and hospitals; and teach at elementary, high school and college levels, including Marian University.
The congregation with a motherhouse in Aston, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1855 by Maria Anna Boll Bachmann (an immigrant from Bavaria, Germany, widowed in 1851 when her husband Anthony was mortally wounded by Nativists in Philadelphia), Barbara Boll, and Anna Dorn. The young women wished to establish a religious community. Around the same time Bishop John Neumann asked Pope Pius IX for permission to bring German Dominican Sisters into his diocese but was advised by the Pope, also a member of the Franciscan Third Order Secular, to establish a congregation of Franciscan Sisters in his diocese. With Neumann's guidance, the "Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia" was founded.
Initially, in addition to hosting immigrant women, the sisters nursed the sick and poor while supporting themselves and the sick by piecework sewing. At the time of the smallpox epidemic of 1858, they continued their care of the sick in patients’ homes or, when necessary, in their small convents. During that same year they responded to the need for teachers at St. Alphonsus Parish in Philadelphia.
The sisters began Neumann University in 1965. Today, about 450 sisters serve in 22 states and in Haiti, Africa, and Ireland. They serve in a variety of ministries in a multitude of settings which include prayer ministry; education at all levels; spiritual and pastoral care; healthcare; elderly services; parish and diocesan ministry; ministry with immigrants, refugees, and those who are homeless, poor, or living with AIDS. They are also present in counseling, advocacy, and leadership in national religious organizations.
The Capuchin Sisters of the Infant Jesus was founded in 1911 by Mother Angela Clara Pesce to serve the Italian-speaking population of New Jersey, where they ran schools. With their motherhouse in Ringwood, New Jersey, they became known as the Franciscan Sisters of Ringwood (FSR). Reaching a peak of 100 Sisters, the congregation numbered 28 by August 2003 when the community merged with the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.
In March 1860, responding to the request of Franciscan Friars to teach German immigrant children in New York, nine sisters left Philadelphia for Syracuse. Later in the year, Bishop Neumann’s successor, Bishop James Wood, separated the Syracuse mission from the Philadelphia foundation, creating a first daughter congregation.
In December 1860, Mother Francis opened the congregation’s first hospital, St. Mary's in Philadelphia. Sisters were also sent to Buffalo, New York in response to the plea of the Redemptorist priests to serve the people of the rapidly growing city. The community in Buffalo became a separate congregation in the autumn of 1863.
On 14 July 2004, the "Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities" was formed through the merger of three daughter foundations of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia: the Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order of Syracuse, N.Y. (1860), the Sisters of St. Francis Third Order Regular of Buffalo (Williamsville Franciscans) (1861), and the Sisters of St. Francis, Conventuals of the Third Order of St. Francis of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin (1893) of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, founded from Buffalo by the Rev. John Drumgoole, who spent his life caring for the orphans of New York City.
The particular apostolate of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Divine Child (FMDC), a diocesan congregation under the Bishop of Buffalo, was to teach religion to students public schools, such as at the Newman Center at Buffalo State University. In 2003 the congregation merged with the sisters in Williamsville and thus were part of the new union.
In September 2007 they were joined by a fourth daughter congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale (1868), of Mt. Alvernia, Millvale, Pennsylvania, also founded from the congregation in Buffalo.
Congregation with motherhouse at St. Elizabeth's Convent, Allegany, New York. Founded in 1857 by the Very Rev. Father Pamfilo of Magliano, O.F.M., who was the founder of St. Bonaventure University, and pastor of St. Francis of Assisi's Church (New York City).
The Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate (commonly known as the Joliet Franciscans) were founded in Joliet, Illinois in 1865 by Mother Mary Alfred Moes with the assistance of Father Pamfilo da Magliano, OFM. Moes had emigrated from Luxembourg, having heard Bishop John Martin Henni of Milwaukee, Wisconsin recruiting teachers. Although initially trained as teachers, the sisters broadened the scope of their ministry to serve as nurses and social workers.
Congregation was founded in St. Louis, Missouri on 29 May 1901, by three members of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Joliet, Illinois to responding to the needs of the immigrants for Polish-speaking Sisters. As of 2014, 93 Sisters minister in fourteen dioceses in 10 states in the fields of education, healthcare, social services and parish ministry. The congregation has a particular focus on environmental stewardship.
This congregation, known formally as the Sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis, with its motherhouse in Rochester, Minnesota, was founded in 1877 by Mother Mary Alfred Moes, after her expulsion from the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate in Joliet by the local bishop. Intending to establish a school in Rochester, after the devastation of the city by a tornado, her new congregation built St. Mary's Hospital. It is now part of the Mayo Clinic, which grew out of her work. They also served in schools throughout Minnesota and established the College of St. Teresa in Winona. The Franciscan Sisters of Rochester have served in over fifteen states from the Midwest to California, as well as in Sierra Leone, Colombia, and Cambodia.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio (also known as The Sisters of St. Francis of Our Lady of Lourdes) were founded by Anne Sandusky (Mother M. Adelaide), a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis, Rochester, Minnesota. In 1916, she was serving as directress of the College of St. Teresa when Bishop Joseph Schrembs of the Diocese of Toledo requested that the Sisters in Rochester send members to the Toledo area to work with the children of the Polish immigrants. Sister Adelaide and 22 other Sisters established a home in Toledo and began teaching in area schools. The sisters established Lourdes Junior College and continue to sponsor Lourdes University. As of 2016 there were about 200 sisters serving in a variety of ministries.
The institute was founded by Mother Ignatius Hayes in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1872. The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception were founded by Mother Mary Elizabeth Lockhart. Hayes, who was born on Guernsey, joined the Franciscan sisters at Bayswater under the direction of Cardinal Manning, before commencing her missionary work in Minnesota. In 1964, 26 Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, amalgamated with the Institute, thus uniting the two communities whose foundresses had been closely associated. In conjunction with a convent for retired sisters, they operate a residential care facility for the elderly in Essex. The Sisters also serve in the United States in the Archdioceses of New York, Newark, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Savannah. The generalate is in Rome, Italy; there are about 250 sisters worldwide.
Upon the death of Mother Ignatius a number of the sisters in Minnesota decided to travel to Italy to join the rest of the congregation. In March 1891, those that chose to remain re-organized themselves as the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Little Falls (OSF), under the Diocese of Saint Cloud. As of 2016 they numbered about 130 sisters, serving primarily in Minnesota, with missions throughout the United States, as well as in Ecuador and Mexico.
At the invitation of Bishop John Lancaster Spaulding of Peoria, in 1893, sisters from the Little Falls congregation travelled to Rock Island, Illinois to open St. Anthony's Hospital. In 1901 this group became an independent diocesan community, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (Rock Island, Illinois). In 1989 this congregation merged with the Sisters of St. Francis of Peoria.
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth was founded in Rome by Blessed Mother Frances Siedliska in 1875. In 1885, Siedliska and eleven sisters set out for Chicago, Illinois, where they had been invited to minister to the needs of Polish immigrant children and families.
Around 1922 Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth arrived from Chicago to serve immigrant Lithuanian Catholics in the Pittsburgh area. They were known as the Lithuanian Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi. Some worked in Lithuania in the 1930s and again in the 1990s. In 1949 they adopted their current name to reflect what had become a broader outreach. As of 2015 there were seventy-four members in the United States, Brazil, Bolivia, and Haiti working with children, the homeless, and inmates. They operate the Franciscan Child Day Care Center at the former St. Francis Academy in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Congregation with Motherhouse at Mount St. Clare, Clinton, Iowa. Founded in Kentucky in 1867 by Dom Benedict Berger, O.C.S.O., Abbot of Gethsemani Abbey, to teach in the schools of the territory for which the abbey had the pastoral care, and approved by the Rt. Rev. Peter Joseph Lavialle, Bishop of Louisville, Kentucky. Due to difficult economic circumstances in which they found themselves, in 1890 the Sisters accepted the bishop's invitation to relocate to the Diocese of Dubuque, Iowa. Sisters, 130; novices and postulants, 40; hospital, 1; schools, 16; pupils, 2590.
The history of the Sisters of St. Francis dates to 1867. As pastor of St. Joseph Church, Fr. Joseph Bihn asked for volunteers to help in the work of starting a home in Tiffin for orphaned children and the aged. Four women answered the call, including a widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Greiveldinger Schaefer. This was the beginning of a new order, the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Schaefer then became Mother Mary Francis, co-founder and first Mother Superior. The institution was incorporated in 1869.
Motherhouse, Grand Avenue and Chippewa Street, St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1872 by Sisters from the General Motherhouse at Salzkotten, Germany. Sisters, 224; hospitals, 6, schools, 1; orphan asylums, 2; house of providence, 1; convent, 1.
Congregation with motherhouse at Stella Niagara, near Lewiston, New York. Established in 1874 by Mother M. Aloysia and three sisters from Nonnenwerth, near Rolandseck, Rhenish Prussia, Germany. Sisters 253; academies, 5; schools, 18; pupils, 6348; orphan asylum, 1; Indian schools, 2; pupils, 577; foundling-house, 1.
Congregation with motherhouse at Mount St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Founded in 1876 by Mother Xaveria Termehr and the other Sisters from the House of Bethlehem in Herford, Germany, who, on account of the infamous Falk Laws, were compelled to leave Germany. Sisters, 399; novices, 34; postulants, 20; orphan asylums, 2; industrial school, 1; academy, 1; home for aged, 1; schools, 43; pupils, 6829.
Congregation with motherhouse at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, a Level I adult and pediatric trauma center affiliated with the OSF Saint Francis College of Nursing and the University of Illinois College of Medicine-Chicago Peoria campus in Peoria, Illinois; founded in 1877 by the Rt. Rev. John Lancaster Spalding, Bishop of Peoria, with the leadership of Mother M. Frances Krasse, from a local community of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa, dedicated to nursing care. The Sisters later expanded into the field of education. Sisters, 163; novices, 38; postulants, 26; hospitals, 10; patients, 5320, colleges, 2.
Motherhouse at Mercy Hospital, Burlington, Iowa. Sisters, 22; hospital, 1.
Congregation with mother-house at St. Joseph's Convent, Buffalo, New York. Sisters, 58; novices, 16; postulants, 21.
Congregation with motherhouse at Holy Family Convent, Alverno, Wisconsin. Founded in 1869 at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by the Rev. Joseph Fessler, it was affiliated to the Order of Friars Minor Conventual 19 March 1900. Sisters, 303; novices, 40; postulants, 10; hospitals, 2; home for aged, 1; schools, 53; pupils, 8500.
Congregation with motherhouse in Frankfort, Illinois (formerly Joliet, Illinois). Founded in 1866 in Seelbach, then part of the Grand Duchy of Baden, by the Reverend Wilhelm Berger. Due to the Kulturkampf between the German government and the Catholic Church, in which only religious communities which provided nursing were allowed to remain functioning, in 1876 the community emigrated to the United States and established itself in Avilla, Indiana. They have taught in schools throughout the Midwestern United States. Sisters, 325; novices, 40; postulants, 12; hospitals, 10; home for aged, 1; orphan asylum, 1; schools, 9.
In 1868 Father Edward Francis Daems, O.S.C., requested assistance in ministering with him among the immigrants on the peninsula of Wisconsin. Sisters Christine Rousseau, Pauline LaPlante, Mary Pius Doyle and Mary Immaculata Van Lanen responded. Together, they laid the foundation for the "Sisters of St. Francis of Bay Settlement", living a simple life, following the Rule of St. Francis, and educating immigrant children. The diversity of the immigrants' languages, the hard work of frontier life, poverty, and ill health presented great challenges for the founders, who received formal by the Bishop of Green Bay Francis Xavier Krautbauer on March 14, 1881. On its 75th jubilee as a Community in 1956, the community adopted the title, "Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross".
Provincialate located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They were founded in 1873 by three Sisters who left their small community in Schwarzach, Baden-Württemberg, German Empire, led by Mother Alexia Höll, and settled in New Cassel, Wisconsin. Their new community was formally established on April 28, 1874. The number of Sisters grew, until they were allowed to form a separate Province of the congregation in 1907. They established schools, hospitals and sanitaria throughout the nation. As of 2011, the province numbers 625 Sisters, located in 24 states.
Motherhouse in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Founded in 1901 from the German School Sisters of St. Francis. The Polish Sisters withdrew and formed a new congregation to address the educational needs of the children of Polish immigrants.building St. Joseph Motherhouse in Stevens Point, Wisconsin was built the following year. After strong growth throughout the 20th century, many of their institutions have been either closed or transferred to other organizations. As of 2014, there are 400 sisters serving in fourteen states and three countries. the congregation sponsors Trinity High School (Garfield Heights, Ohio), Regina High School in Warren, Michigan and the Barlett Learning Center and Marymount Health Care Systems, both in Ohio.
The Congregation of Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Assisi (CSSF) with general motherhouse in Cracow, Poland. Founded in 1855 by Sophia Truszkowska at Warsaw, then within the Russian Empire, now Poland. There are 1800 sisters, of whom 700 serve in the North American Province. Other Provinces are based in Crakow, Przemusl, and Warsaw, as well as, Curitiba, Brazil.
Introduced into the United States in 1874. In 2009 the Provinces of Livonia, Michigan (1874), Buffalo, New York (1900), Chicago, Illinois (1910), Lodi, New Jersey (1913), Coraopolis, Pennsylvania (1920), Enfield, Connecticut (1932), and Rio Rancho, New Mexico (1953) amalgamated to form the new Province of Our Lady of Hope based in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. This province has 700 professed sisters who serve from Canada’s Northwest Territories to Haiti.
Congregation with Provincial Motherhouse at St. Francis Convent, Lafayette, Indiana. Introduced into this country in 1875 by Sisters from the General Motherhouse at Olpe, Germany. Founded by the Venerable Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel on 20 July 1863. Sisters, 613; novices, 35; postulants, 21; academies, 3; orphan asylum, 1; home for aged, 1; schools, 36; hospitals, 18; high schools, 2.
Congregation with Provincial Motherhouse at St. John's Hospital, Springfield, Illinois. Founded in 1875 by Sisters from the General Motherhouse in Münster, Germany. Sisters, 299; novices, 29; postulants, 11; hospitals, 12.
The first congregation was established by Berger in St. Louis, Missouri in 1877. She and some companions had left Germany to provide nursing care to the German immigrant population of the city.
Mother Mary Augustine Giesen led a new foundation of the congregation to Maryville, Missouri, in 1894, which separated from the original congregation and took this name.
Congregation with the General Motherhouse in Rome, Italy. Founded in 1883 under the inspiration of the founder of the Salvatorians, independent in 1885. They came to the United States at the invitation of the Bishop of Wichita, Kansas, in 1889, and within two years had opened four hospitals and an orphanage, as well as teaching in parish schools.
Congregation with motherhouse at Peoria, Illinois. Founded in 1890. Sisters, 47; novices, 20; postulants, 17; schools, 6; homes, 2; asylum, 1.
Congregation with Provincial Motherhouse at St. Francis Convent, Nevada, Missouri. Established in 1893 by Sister M. John Hau and some companions from the motherhouse at Grimmenstein, Switzerland. Sisters, 25; orphan asylum, 1.
Congregation with motherhouse at Chicago, Illinois. Founded by Josephine Dudzik for Polish-speakers under the name Franciscan Sisters of St. Kunegunda (OSFK) in 1894. Sisters, 107; novices, 22; postulants, 18; orphan asylum, 1; home for aged and crippled, 1; day-nursery, 1; schools, 11; pupils, 2070.
Provincial motherhouse in Reading, Pennsylvania, established in the United States in 1894. The congregation was founded in Cracow, Poland, in 1457, when a group of tertiaries, of the nobility, formed an active community of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis in St. Agnes Convent. Because these Franciscan Sisters attended Mass in a church dedicated to the then recently canonized St. Bernardine of Siena, they became known as the Bernardines. From the Convent of St. Agnes a new foundation, that of St. Joseph, was established in the same city in 1646; St. Joseph Convent gave rise to the Sacred Heart Convent, which was founded at Zakliczyn-on the-Danube in 1883. From there, the Bernardine sisters came to the United States, when they were sent to minister to the Polish immigrants at St. Joseph School in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, in 1895, they moved to Reading to teach at St. Mary’s School. It was in Reading that the motherhouse was built.
Motherhouse in Buffalo, New York.
In 1911 the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Calais, France, a nursing congregation with origins dating back to the 15th century, sent Mother Marie de Bethanie Crowley with five companions to central Louisiana to serve the sick and needy. Their first foundation was a sanitarium in Pineville, Louisiana. They went on to found several medical facilities: St. Francis Hospital in Monroe, Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette, Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales. The North American Provincial Motherhouse is in Baton Rouge.
Established in the United States in 2016, Provincial Motherhouse in Merrill, Wisconsin. Founded in Switzerland in 2000 by Capuchin friar Theodosius Florentini and Blessed Mary Theresa Scherer. They came to the country at the invitation of Vincent de Paul Wehrle, O.S.B., Bishop of Bismarck, North Dakota, to open a hospital. They eventually opened two more and taught in many schools. In 2010 they sold their fruits and converted their convent in Merrill into a mujerior residence.
The Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary was established in 1916 in Savannah, Georgia, by Elizabeth Williams (Mother Mary Theodore) and Father Ignatius Lissner, S.M.A., for the education of children of color. The public school system was racially segregated. The Motherhouse was moved to Harlem in New York in 1924, as part of the Great Migration of more than a million African Americans to the North and Midwest before World War II. The congregation operates St. Benedict Nursery in Harlem, and St. Edward Food Pantry on Staten Island. As of 2011, the Sisters number 17.
This was established in the United States in 1923, and the Provincial Motherhouse is in Alton, Illinois. In 1869 Mother M. Anselma Bopp and a companion had founded this congregation. They had left the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Strassbourg responding to a request in Thuine, Germany; the motherhouse is based here. The Sisters immigrated to the United States to help a priest, Father Dunne, of St. Louis, Missouri, then a center of German immigration. The Sisters moved to Alton, where they established a nursing home. As of 2010, they have over 100 Sisters in the United States (the total congregation numbers more than 1,600). They operate facilities for elderly care for both the general public and also with special facilities for the clergy, as well as child care and education.
Provincial Motherhouse in Plainfield, New Jersey, founded in 1855 in Würzburg, Germany, where they are still headquartered. They were founded by Mother Antonie Werr to minister to the needs of women who were neglected by society; in particular, prisoners, prostitutes and the destitute poor. The Sisters came to the United States in 1929 and established their first foundation on Staten Island, New York. Their principal ministries are in social work, health care and teaching.
Introduced to the United States in 1932, Provincial Motherhouse in Amarillo, Texas. Founded in Colombia in 1893 by Blessed Maria Caritas Brader, a Swiss missionary Sister, who left her European congregation to promote religious life in Latin America. The Sisters combine social service with Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The Sisters serve in Texas, California and New Mexico.
Founded in China in 1939, as a community of the missions, by Bishop Rafael Palazzi, an Italian Franciscan missionary. Due to the Communist takeover, the Sisters were forced to flee from the motherhouse in Hengyang, Hunan, to Hong Kong. After several years as refugees, the community came to the United States, opening retreat houses in California and Oregon. They became involved in the teaching apostolate in both locations, and in care for Navajo girls in Gallup, New Mexico.
Motherhouse in Dundalk, Ireland. Founded in 1952 by Mother Mary Kevin of the Sacred Passion (born Theresa Kearney, County Wicklow, Ireland) as an offshoot from the Mill Hill Sisters, with the purpose of focusing on the African missions. A convent was established in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1952, with an American novitiate being opened in 1954.
The Congregation of the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the Immaculate Conception was founded in Lisbon, Portugal in 1871 by Libânia do Carmo Galvão Mexia de Moura Telles e Albuquerque (Sr. Maria Clara), and is represented in fifteen countries. They came to the United States in 1960 in order to aid Portuguese immigrants. They serve in the state of California in the dioceses of San Jose, Fresno, and Monterey. The majority of the California sisters now are involved in healthcare.
Congregation with headquarters in Haverstraw, New York. Founded in 1986 by 112 Sisters, who chose to leave the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart for a simpler form of life. Today, they continue to spread their mission of peacemaking in a variety of ways as teachers, social workers, administrators, parish associates, prison chaplains, retreat directors, day care workers and health care workers in the New York metropolitan area.
A religious congregation in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, established in 1990. This community came from a split of several Sisters from the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, Franciscans, which had been founded in Mexico in 1873.
Sister Ana Maria Solis, O.S.F., and several companions in the Mexican congregation wanted a more Franciscan character to their way of life. To this end they formed a new congregation which served the Hispanic community in Wisconsin. After nine years, problems developed and they sought a new home. They were welcomed in 2000 to their current location by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. They are currently involved in catechetical work and social service to the Hispanic population in the Nebraska City area.
Congregation with motherhouse in Cagayan, the Philippines. Founded in 1953 by Father (title) Gerardo Filipetto, O.F.M., to assist the missionary Franciscan friars in their work of spreading the Gospel and caring for the poor and the sick. They established a community in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1992, where the Latino population has been increasing.
Founded by St. Ludovico of Casoria