Third Order of Saint Francis

The Third Order of Saint Francis, is a third order in the Franciscan order. The preaching of Francis of Assisi, as well as his example, exercised such an attraction on people that many married men and women wanted to join the First Order (friars) or the Second Order (nuns), but this being incompatible with their state of life, Francis found a middle way and in 1221 gave them a rule according to the Franciscan charism. Those following this rule became members of the Franciscan Third Order, sometimes called tertiaries. It includes religious congregations of men and women, known as Third Order Regulars; and fraternities of men and women, Third Order Seculars. The latter do not wear a religious habit, take vows, or live in community. However, they do gather together in community on a regular basis. "They make profession to live out the Gospel life and commit themselves to that living out the Gospel according to the example of Francis."[1]

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 Third Order Secular was changed to the Secular Franciscan Order.[clarification needed][2]

Apart from the Third Order of Saint Francis in Roman Catholicism, the Lutheran and Anglican traditions also have Franciscan third orders.[3]


Tertiaries (from the Latin tertiarius, relative to "third"), or what are 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.[4]

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 in 1221 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). The rule 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. The prohibition against carrying arms dealt a blow to the feudal system and to the ever-fighting factions of Italian municipalities; through the admission of poor and rich, nobles and common people, the social classes were brought nearer each other.[5]

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 put the Third Order under the care of the Friars Minor.[5]

By the 15th century, numerous individuals living under the Rule of the Third Order were living in small communities, many leading an eremetical life. 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 nineteenth century many of the new congregations adopted the Rule of the Third Order, but most of them have no other connection with the First Order.[5]

After the Reformation, Franciscan third orders aligned with the Lutheran Churches and Anglican Communion were organized, such as the Evangelical Franciscans Tertiaries (Evangelischen Franziskaner-Tertiaren) that was founded in 1927 by Friedrich Heiler, a Lutheran priest in Germany.[6]


Third Order Secular or Secular Franciscan Order

The Third Order Secular (Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis, in Latin), known as the Secular Franciscan Order, includes both men and women, married and single. Members do not live in community, but live their everyday lives in the world. However, they " gather together in community on a regular basis. They make profession to live out the Gospel life and commit themselves to that living out the Gospel according to the example of Francis."[1]

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.[7] 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. 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.[8]

Third Order Regular

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".

More than 448 congregations profess the "Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis." There are 18 male congregations of Tertiary Franciscans, 370 congregations of Franciscan Sisters and 60 monasteries of cloistered nuns. The Third Order congregations of men and women number over 200,000 male and female religious.

A new Rule, written by friars and sisters of various congregations, was approved by Pope Paul VI in 1978. It is the current Rule followed by all congregations of the Third Order Regular, both men and women.

Congregations of friars

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.[9] 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.[10] The order's motherhouse remains in Aachen and the order maintains houses in Brazil, Holland and the United States.[11]

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.

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 disadvantaged men and boys, as well as Price Memorial Hall, a nursing home open to both men and women.[12] As of 2002, the brothers numbered 22.[13]

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 AmigĂł y Ferrer, later bishop, in Spain. They were established through AmigĂł'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.[14]

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.[15]

Congregations of Sisters

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 KĂĽgelin, provost of the Canonry of St. Peter in Waldsee, acquired a house in Reute on the outskirts of Waldsee.[16] 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.[17][18] Unlike the Second Order of the Franciscan movement, the Poor Clare nuns, they were not an enclosed religious order,[19] 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.[23]

The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were founded by Blessed Mary Catherine Troiani, O.S.F., in 1868 in Cairo, Egypt.[24]

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.[25]

The Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa (OSF) were founded in 1952 by Mother Mary Kevin of the Sacred Passion (born Teresa 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[26]

The Congregation of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart (FMSC) 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.[27] 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. As of 2017, there was 700 sisters in twenty-two countries.[28]

The Sisters of St. Francis 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.[29]

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.[30] 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.

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 Wimbledon. 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.[31]

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.[32]

The Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) were founded in 1884 in Hampstead, London, by three members of the Third Order, and began caring for orphans in Aldershot. The international congregation has about 300 members. The motherhouse is at Ladywell in Surrey.[33]

The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Little Hampton (FMSL) is a diocesan congregation founded in 1911 by Mary Patrick Brennan. Besides missions in Peru and India, the sisters operate two residential care homes in West Sussex, and a house of hospitality in Knock, Ireland.[34]

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 Scotland, England, Ireland, the US, Rome, Nigeria, and Kenya.[35] In 1865 Father Pamfilo of Magliano adapted their rule for the then recently established Franciscan Sisters of Allegany,

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 Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 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. 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.[36] The motherhouse of the congregation is in St. Francis, Wisconsin.

  • 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 Gibbons, the Archbishop of Baltimore, to care for the many homeless African American children of that city.[37] This latter group later 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.[38] 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,[39] 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 share with the other two congregations stemming from the same founders in mentoring the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis - Cameroon in Africa.[40]

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.[41] 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.[42]

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.[43] 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). At that 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 instead. With Neumann's guidance, the "Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia" was founded. 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. In December 1860, Mother Francis opened the congregation's first hospital, St. Mary's in Philadelphia. During that same year they responded to the need for teachers at St. Alphonsus Parish in Philadelphia. The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia were once known as the Glen Riddle Franciscans.[44] Today, about 450 sisters serve in 22 states and in Haiti, Africa, and Ireland.[45]

  • 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.[46][47]

The congregation was formed in 2004 with the merger of three separate congregations: Sisters of St Francis of Syracuse, Sisters of St. Francis of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin, and the Sisters of St. Francis Third Order Regular of Buffalo (Williamsville Franciscans). During the process of the reorganization, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Divine Child merged with the Williamsville Franciscans in 2003. The Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale joined the congregation in 2007.

  • 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, the Sisters of St Francis of Syracuse, New York.
  • The Sisters of St. Francis of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin of Hastings-on-Hudson assisted Father John Christopher Drumgoole in the establishment of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto on Staten Island. They also ran St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York.[48]
  • 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, the Sisters of St. Francis Third Order Regular of Buffalo (Williamsville Franciscans)[49]
    • The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Divine Child (known as the "Blue Nuns" were founded in 1927 in Buffalo, New York to serve children of Italian immigrants in need of religious instruction. In 2003 they merged with the Williamsville Franciscans.[50]
    • The Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale of Mt. Alvernia, Millvale, Pennsylvania were founded in 1865 by sisters from the Buffalo community. The congregation opened hospitals, ran volunteer programs, and operated Mount Alvernia High School for 75 years.[51]

In September 2007 they were joined the Neumann congregation.[52]

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).[53]

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.[54]

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.[55] 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.[56]

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.[57] The sisters established Lourdes Junior College and continue to sponsor Lourdes University.[58] 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.[59] The generalate is in Rome, Italy; there are about 250 sisters worldwide.[60]

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 2019 they numbered about 115 sisters, serving primarily in Minnesota, with missions throughout the United States, as well as in Ecuador and Mexico.[61][62]

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.[63]

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.[64][65] As of 2015, there were twenty-nine members.

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. As of 2015 there were 55 sisters.[66]

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.[67]

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 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.[68]

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.[69]

  • At the invitation of Bishop John Lancaster Spaulding of Peoria, in 1893, sisters from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Little Falls 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).[70][71] In 1989 the Rock Island congregation merged with the Sisters of St. Francis of Peoria.[72]

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.[73]

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".[74]

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.[75]

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.[76]

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.[77]

Congregation with Provincial Motherhouse at St. John's Hospital, Springfield, Illinois. Founded in 1875 by Sisters from the General Motherhouse in MĂĽnster, Germany. Sisters, 299; novices, 29; postulants, 11; hospitals, 12.[78]

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Mary was established in St. Louis, Missouri by Mary Odilia Berger in 1874. 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 group of sisters to Maryville, Missouri, in 1894. They branched off from the original congregation to focus on providing healthcare to rural areas, and formed the Sisters of St. Francis of Maryville. In 1985 the two congregations merged. The congregation operates 20 hospitals in the Midwestern United States.

Franciscan Servants of Mary (FSM)

the Congregation of the Franciscans Servants of Mary was established in It was founded by Marie Virginie Vaslin in 1852.It was approved by Mgr. Pallu du Parc, bishop of Blois, France.March 25, 1856.He was integrated into the Franciscan family and adopted the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Assisi on September 17, 1864.He was elevated to the rank of pontifical right on December 17, 1901.The institute is a cell of the Church;He wants to live in and for the Church, in obedience to the Pope.

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.[citation needed]

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.[79]

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.[80]

Motherhouse in Buffalo, New York.[citation needed]

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.[81]

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.[82]

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.[citation needed]

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.[83]

Provincial Motherhouse in Plainfield, New Jersey, founded in 1855 in WĂĽrzburg, 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[84]

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.[26]

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.[85]

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.[citation needed]

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.[86]

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.[87]

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.[citation needed]

Founded by St. Ludovico of Casoria

The Franciscan Sisters, TOR of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother are a Roman Catholic religious congregation founded on August 15, 1988, in the Diocese of Steubenville, in Ohio, United States, by Bishop Albert Henry Ottenweller. The sisters work with the poor and needy of the diocese, as well as leading religious retreats and working to catechize the young. They also serve as campus ministers at Franciscan University of Steubenville and at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.


Lutheran Franciscan Tertiaries

In Germany, the Lutheran Franciscan Tertiaries, officially known as the Evangelische Franziskanerbruderschaft der Nachfolge Christi, were founded in 1927; the emphasize the Rule of Saint Francis and pray daily from their breviary.[3]


See also


  • Raffaele Pazzelli. St. Francis and the Third Order: The Franciscan and pre-Franciscan Penitential Movement, Franciscan Institute Publications, 1989; ISBN 978-0-8199-0953-4


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External links