In 1849, a small band of
lay Franciscans left their home in Ettenbeuren, Bavaria, and crossed the ocean
to America to become missionaries to the German immigrants in Wisconsin. Amid hardship
and struggles, the women organized a religious congregation, the Sisters of St.
Francis of Assisi.
Since Francis' time, hundreds of groups of women and men
throughout the world have claimed the ideals of Francis as their inspiration
and guide to living the Gospel. So it was with the Sisters of St. Francis of
Assisi, Milwaukee, the founders and corporate sponsors of Cardinal Stritch
In 1849, a small band of lay Franciscans left their home in
Ettenbeuren, Bavaria, and crossed the ocean to America to become missionaries
to the German immigrants in Wisconsin. Amid hardship and struggles, the women
organized a religious congregation, the Sisters of St. Francis of
Through more than 150 years, this Congregation has grown to be a
strong influence in the life of the Church and in the civic community. In
addition to providing domestic services to the priests and students at St.
Francis Seminary, Milwaukee, for more than 100 years, the Sisters became
teachers at all levels. Special education became a major area of dedication as
witnessed at three residential St. Coletta Schools (Jefferson, Wis.; Palos
Park, Ill., and Hanover, Mass.) and two day schools (Milwaukee and Braintree,
In Milwaukee, St. Mary's Academy offered education for young
women of high school age from 1904 to 1991. In 1937, St. Clare College (later
to become Cardinal Stritch University) opened as a teacher-training school for
Today, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi continue their
corporate ministries in partnership with lay leaders. Since 1989, they have
opened two apartment complexes for the elderly (Juniper and Canticle Courts)
and St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, an innovative and model facility
for meeting the needs of both the elderly and children. In 1991, they converted
the former St. Mary's Academy to the Marian Center for Nonprofits, a rental
complex for service organizations. They also maintain the Liteh Kindergarten in
In 2001, the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore merged with the
Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, bringing with them significant ministries
such as the St. Francis Center for the Homeless, the St. Francis Youth Center
in the inner city of Baltimore, Francis House, a community of volunteers,
Aisling Retreat Center, and St. Elizabeth School for youth with special needs.
Not all Sisters of St. Francis are involved in
corporate ministries. Many of them serve where their individual talents are
needed, as parish and campus ministers, pastoral counselors, office
managers and staff, chaplains, ministers to the elderly, and in various areas
of education, including tutoring youth and adults.