Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart

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The Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic religious congregation for women based in Frankfort, Illinois, in the south suburbs of Chicago. The Sisters serve in the area of health care in hospitals, clinics, home health programs, support programs for pregnant teens and social service programs; are minister in education as teachers, administrators, librarians and religious education coordinators, and serve in parish ministry as liturgists, pastoral associates, youth ministers and coordinators of parish programs.

The Sisters live together in convents that are located in Illinois, Indiana, California, and Kentucky as well as in the Amazon area of Brazil, South America. Following the Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, and as members of the Franciscan family, they are women dedicated to sharing their lives in prayer, community and ministry. Their ministries were defined by their founder, title Wilhelm Berger, as "works of neighborly love".


In 1866, Colette Himmelsbach and three other daring young women in Seelbach, Germany accepted the challenge to serve the poor, the sick and the aging of their village. From this small group grew the Congregation now known as the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

From the early years of the Congregation, the Sisters spent long, hard hours serving those in physical and spiritual need. The Sisters worked on the battlefield nursing the wounded of the Franco-Prussian War. They also cared for the sick in their homes, nursed victims of the plagues of smallpox and typhoid fever. They taught the young and opened their convent doors to the orphans and to the elderly.

When the political climate in Germany changed, during the period known as the Kulturkampf, the Sisters were asked to disband or find a new home in a new land. With deep, silent faith they sought in prayer to know the best response. Before they made their final decision, the Rev. D. Duehmig from the United States invited Mother Anastasia Bischler and the Sisters to this country.

In 1876, the Sisters set sail for America and arrived in the Diocese of Fort Wayne, Indiana and settled first in the town of Avilla. Later, circumstances drew the Sister's Motherhouse to Illinois, first to Joliet and now to its present location in Frankfort.


Over the years, the Sisters have continued to answer the call for help in many communities. Their heritage of industry and discipline has equipped them to adapt to the needs of the times and local customs. Their deep trust in Divine Providence continually supports their readiness to become involved in a diversity of needed services.

The Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart Development Office was established to seek funding for present and future ministries and needs and to develop relationships with their partners and donors.