The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis is an evangelical community of Franciscan women called to observe with loving and generous hearts the holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to The Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. In all that we do, we seek to reveal the Kingdom of God; and in so doing, we reverence all created life.
Our oneness with the human family allows us to open our hearts and our lives to all. It is through the Franciscan value of conversion that enables us to willingly begin again, growing deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and to serve all of God's people.
As Franciscans we pass through life as a servant, pilgrim, and prophetic witness to the poverty of God-in-Christ, not holding onto but generously giving to all with whom we come in contact. Following St. Francis, we strive to 'preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.'
In 1901, forty-six women, members of the School Sisters of St. Francis located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, responded to the need to educate Polish immigrant families. Under the leadership of foundresses Mothers Felicia and Clara, and with the assistance of Bishop Sebastian Messmer (Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin) and Father Luke Pescinski (Pastor of St. Peter Parish in Stevens Point, Wisconsin), these women risked everything and left the School Sisters of St. Francis. The call of 'who will teach the children?' provided the impetus to begin a new community.
On July 1, 1901, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, originally known as the Polish Sisters of St. Joseph, was founded in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. On May 20, 1902, the cornerstone was laid on what was to become the first school and eventual Motherhouse of the new congregation. Begun initially as a diocesan community, the Constitution was approved in Rome by the Holy See. The community continued to grow and to minister to those in need.
As the congregation grew, three Provinces were established: Stevens Point, Wisconsin (1903); Garfield Heights, Ohio (1926); and Chicago, Illinois (1936). The Provinces expanded the community's mission to educate and many educational institutions were founded. Visit the "Sponsored Institutions" page of this section for more information.