“Sisters of mercy…joyous and poor” – a union of the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Francis of Assisi. This vision inspired Father Wilhelm Berger to found our religious congregation in Seelbach, Germany, in 1866. From the very beginning, the Sisters were dedicated to the pursuit of holiness through the “works of neighborly love”. In 1876 the “Kulturkampf” required religious to disband or find a new homeland. So the Sisters left their beloved Germany and courageously set sail for America in 1876 where Mother Anastasia Bischler became the first General Superior.
Deep faith and trust in Divine Providence continue to be the hallmark of our Sisters answering the call to diverse ministries in Illinois, Indiana, California, West Virginia and Brazil.
1866 Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart were founded in Germany.
1876 Sisters escaped religious persecution and reestablished congregation in Avilla, IN.
1877 Sisters began staffing schools in Indiana and Illinois.
1881 Sisters began building hospitals in Illinois.
1883 The Motherhouse was moved to Joliet, IL.
1891 Apostolic approval was received for the Portiuncula Indulgence in all the convent chapels.
1892 The first General Chapter of the congregation was held.
1900 Ministries expanded to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
1917 Sisters began 73 years of ministry at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, IL.
1925 A monthly novena to the Infant of Prague for vocations was established. St. Francis Hospital, Santa Barbara, was destroyed by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake except for a Sacred Heart statue which remained intact.
1951 Four Sisters were killed in a tragic car accident in LaSalle, IL.
1964 Motherhouse was moved to Frankfort, IL. Missionary Sisters went to serve the poor in Belem, Para, Brazil.
1970 The first Mass was offered in Queen of Angles Chapel, Frankfort,
1987 The Associate Program began.
2001 125th anniversary of foundation in America was celebrated.
2007 Sisters pilgrimaged to Assisi to deepen their Franciscan spirituality.
2009 25th General Chapter
2014 50th Anniversary of Brazilian Missions
26th General Chapter
Associates 25th Jubilee Celebration
2015 10 Sisters traveled to Gengenbach, Germany for the opening of the 150th Anniversary
150th Anniversary Opening in Frankfort, IL with House Walk
2016 Legacy Alive Community Days & 12 German Sisters welcomed at Motherhouse