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We rejoice as our Franciscan family increases
October 15, 2018 9:58 AM

The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis welcomed five new Franciscan Associates on October 14 during the morning liturgy in St. Francis of Assisi Church. The new Associates are Susie Ferguson and David Kerwin, Springfield, IL; Helen Essenpreis, Breese, IL; and Karen Rehkemper and Sheila Weber, Highland, IL.

“Years ago the Church found ways to welcome men and women who desired a way to deepen their baptismal commitment by accepting God’s call to live according to Jesus’ gospel but not profess vows,” explained Nancy Davis, Associate Coordinator. “One of these ways was through an Associate relationship to a religious community and our Associates seek to model themselves in some way in the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi and the example of our Hospital Sisters of St. Francis,” explained Davis.

These five Associates join the Hospital Sisters’ family of 153 Associates who embrace Franciscan values and the Hospital Sisters’ healing spirit while bringing the compassion of Jesus to others in ways that fit their lifestyle. Associates meet monthly to share their faith on spiritual and Franciscan topics, share in the Hospital Sisters’ spirituality and join with them in prayer, community, celebration and ministry. Associates do not take vows.

Founded in 1987, Associates of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is a ministry that is open to baptized Christians 18 years or older with gatherings in Decatur, Effingham, Highland, Springfield, and Streator, IL; and Eau Claire, Green Bay, and Sheboygan, WI. For more information, please click here.














Front row (left to right): Sister Ann Mathieu, Karen Rehkemper, Sheila Weber, Nancy Davis, Associate Coordinator, David Kerwin, Sister Maureen O'Connor, Provincial Superior, Susie Ferguson, Helen Essenpreis, and Sister Mary Ann Minor

Top row (left to right): Sister Marilyn McCormick and Sister MaryAnn Falbe

We welcome Helen Essenpreis
October 15, 2018 9:52 AM

Associate Helen Essenpreis (Breese, IL) with her sponsor, Sister Mary Ann Minor, OSF

We welcome Susie Ferguson
October 15, 2018 9:51 AM

Associate Susie Ferguson (Springfield, IL) with her sponsor, Sister MaryAnn Falbe, OSF

We welcome David Kerwin
October 15, 2018 9:50 AM

Associate David Kerwin (Springfield, IL) with his sponsor, Sister Ann Mathieu, OSF

We welcome Karen Rehkemper
October 15, 2018 9:49 AM

Associate Karen Rehkemper (Highland, IL) with her sponsor, Sister Marilyn McCormick, OSF

We welcome Sheila Weber
October 15, 2018 9:47 AM

Associate Sheila Weber (Highland, IL) with her sponsor, Sister Marilyn McCormick, OSF

New saint featured in St. Francis of Assisi Church
October 15, 2018 9:43 AM

Yesterday in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Pope Francis named seven new saints and one of them has been pictured in St. Francis of Assisi Church for 55 years.

Shortly after Pope Paul VI was elected on June 21, 1963, a redecorating was planned for St. Francis of Assisi Church with Moroder-International (Milwaukee, WI). Stanislaus Estkowski, the lead artist, was to paint a mural of the new pope above the altar canopy along with the two preceding Popes: John XXIII, Pius XII and Saint Peter.

Saint Pope Paul VI oversaw the closing of the Church's pivotal Second Vatican Council, and issued the landmark encyclical that cemented the church's opposition to birth control. "On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI stunned Catholics around the world with his announcement of Humanae Vitae, "Of Human Life," a document in which he forcefully reaffirmed the church's previously stated position on the use of artificial birth control, calling it "intrinsically wrong." "'We are obliged once more to declare that [methods for] the direct interruption of the generative process,' the pope wrote, '... are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.'

"Humane Vitae came as a surprise to many Vatican observers. Though an encyclical issued in 1930 already prohibited birth control, a papal commission had been assembled to revisit that ban, and a majority of the commission members suggested that it be dropped."

The Vatican calls Paul VI the "pope of modernity" for his influence on changes in "liturgy, seminary formation, theological study, and many other areas of ecclesiastical life."

Feast of St. Francis
October 1, 2018 10:43 AM

On Thursday, October 4, Franciscans throughout the world will observe the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-October 4, 1226). United with our Franciscan brothers and sisters, we reaffirm our commitment to be peacemakers and to be and to bring Christ's healing presence to others.

In this spirit, we are honored to share the music of the Jakarta Concert Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of “Lord, Make me an Instrument of Thy Peace” on May 16, 2018 in Aula Simfonia Jakarta (Kemayoran, Jakarta, Indonesia). John Rutter, English conductor and composer, created this piece of music in 1980.

How will you be an instrument of peace this week?

General Council is elected
September 14, 2018 8:24 PM

On the afternoon of September 14, the capitulars returned to the Chapter Hall to continue with the election process. After prayerful reflection, four Sisters were elected and asked by Sister M. Margarete Ulager, General Superior, if they were willing to serve the international Community and to assume a role on the General Council.

The new General Council is (left to right): Sister Lima Arackal, OSF, General Councilor (Indian Province), Sister M. Christa Maria Frie, OSF General Councilor (German Province), Sister M. Margarete Ulager, OSF, General Superior (German Province), Sister M. Christella Watanabe, OSF, General Vicaress (Japan Province), and Sister M. Rita Edakkoottathil, OSF, General Councilor (Indian Province).

Sister Margarete is elected General Superior
September 14, 2018 3:07 PM

This morning, the General Chapter selected Sister M. Margarete Ulager as their 11th General Superior in the presence of The Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. In St. Francis of Assisi Church in the presence of the Bishop, the capitulars and many Sisters and St. Francis Convent employees, Sister M. Margarete took the oath of office and accepted the Seal and Key of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. Her acceptance was followed by the Sisters pledging their personal and communal support to bring Christ's Healing Presence into the World.

Sister M. Margarete was born on November 4, 1956. She professed First Vows with the German Province of the Hospital Sisters on May 1, 1981 and Final Vows on July 2, 1985. She holds a diploma in nursing and served more than 20 years as a nurse in ICU, Anesthesia, and Nursing Administration. From 1997-2001, she served on the Provincial Council of the German Province and since 2001 she has served as General Treasurer of the Congregation. A few months ago, she received a master's degree in global management from the University of Salford Manchester.

Sister M. Margarete, Bishop Paprocki, and Sister Sherrey Murphy entering St. Francis of Assisi Church


Sister M. Margarete taking the Oath of Office


The Seal and Key of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis


Sister Sherrey Murphy, Bishop Paprocki, Sister M. Margarete, and Sister Mary Ann Minor

Hospital Sisters of St. Francis host the international meeting of its Congregation
August 24, 2018 11:55 AM

The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, members of an international, multi-cultural Franciscan Congregation with headquarters in Germany, will host a meeting of their international Congregation from September 6-22, 2018 at St. Francis Convent, Springfield, IL. Due to property limitations at the Motherhouse in Münster, Germany, this is the first time in the Sisters’ 174-year history that the Chapter will not be held in Germany.

The General Chapter of Elections and Affairs for the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, the highest decision-making authority in the Congregation, is a meeting that is held every six years to elect the leadership team and provide direction for the international Congregation which has Provinces in Germany, Poland, Japan, India, and the United States. Currently, more than 700 Franciscan Sisters serve in those five countries and in The Netherlands, South Korea, and Kazakhstan. Twenty-six Sisters representing the Provinces are elected as delegates and will attend the General Chapter in Springfield. “As an international Congregation, you will notice differences in our nationalities and dress. However, the core of our Congregation rests in ‘being and bringing the healing presence of Christ’ into our world, wherever we are and whatever we do,” explained Sister Sherrey Murphy, OSF, General Superior (pictured above).

On September 14, The Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, will preside over the election of the Congregation’s General Superior. Following her installation, the new General Superior will then oversee the election of the General Vicaress and General Councilors. The Superior, Vicaress and Councilors form the Congregation’s leadership team in Münster. Because the Congregation is of Papal Rite, all major decisions require Vatican approval through the General Superior. Since 1852, there have been 10 General Superiors and the two most recent are from the American Province: Sister Mary Ann Minor, OSF, ninth General Superior, who served from 1994-2006, and Sister Sherrey Murphy, OSF, tenth General Superior, who has served since 2006 and will complete her term with this 2018 Chapter. Sister Sherrey celebrated 50 years as a Hospital Sister in June and has served 24 of those years in Germany.

“As the General Leadership of an international Franciscan congregation, we are responsible for ensuring that the members of the Congregation and its ministries are oriented to the life of Jesus Christ and St. Francis,” Sister Sherrey added. Article 162 of the Sisters’ General Constitution states: It is the responsibility of the General Leadership to consider and make decisions regarding the essential matters of the Congregation. They are to have concern for the common welfare and for the individual Sisters. It devolves upon them to vitalize the spirit and mission of the Congregation and to preserve its unity. While remaining faithful to our tradition, they give prophetic vision to the future direction.

The tradition of observing the General Superior’s election on September 14 is significant for two reasons. First, the Church observes the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14. This Feast recalls three historical events: the finding in 326 of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine; the dedication of the church built by Constantine in 335 on the site of the Holy Sepulchre; and the restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem in 629 by the emperor Heraclius II. Second, September 14 is the date that Father Christopher Bernsmeyer, OFM (1777-1858) made his First Profession of Vows with the Franciscan Province of the Holy Cross at Koster, Hamm, Germany. On July 2, 1844, Father Christopher founded the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis in Our Lady of Grace Chapel, Telgte, Germany when he welcomed four women who followed their calling to be of service to God and care for the sick.

Others participating in the September General Chapter include Professor Doctor Friar Michael Plattig, O.Carm., educator and spiritual director for Motherhouse Community in Münster, who will serve as a Consultant along with Process Facilitators Father Hans-Bern Koeppen and Professor Doctor Margaret Nemann, both of the Diocese of Münster. There will be two German/English translators, two Japanese/English translators, and two Polish/German/English translators to facilitate communication between the Chapter delegates.

The international Mission Statement of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis proclaims that: we are members of an international, multi-cultural congregation of Franciscan Sisters; we are committed to live the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, our founder Father Christopher Bernsmeyer, OFM, our founding Sisters and all those who followed them; we are committed to live a simple life style in community; we find challenge in the values of the Third Order Regular Rule: conversion, contemplation, poverty and humility; we are dedicated to a common mission that brings Christ's healing presence to humanity and supports creative ways of responding to the sick, poor and needy; we witness our Franciscan spirituality by reverencing all creation, living and promoting peace and justice and respecting the dignity of all people. Internationally, the Sisters serve in health care, pastoral care, education, social services, and self-help projects while joining with others for ministries to serve the people in need.

General Superiors of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
1st General Superior Sister Josephine Elkmann, OSF (1852-1866)
2nd General Superior Sister Bernhardine Wehage, OSF (1866-1897)
3rd General Superior Sister Cherubine Döring, OSF (1897-1921)
4th General Superior Sister Pulcheria Braems, OSF (1921-1939)
5th General Superior Sister Wistremunda Schemann, OSF (1939-1952)
6th General Superior Sister M. Odilia Berkel, OSF (1952-1970)
7th General Superior Sister M. Barthola Thoben, OSF (1970-1976)
8th General Superior Sister M. Angela Schrudde, OSF (1976-1994)
9th General Superior Sister Mary Ann Minor, OSF (1994-2006)
10th General Superior Sister Sherrey Murphy, OSF (2006-2018)

In memoriam: Sister Marie Chang, OSF
August 21, 2018 11:10 AM

Sister Marie Chang, O.S.F. (94) died on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at 7:45 a.m. at St. Francis Convent, Springfield, IL.

Sister Marie, the former Filomina (Chinese name: Shih Min) Chang, was born in Beijing, China, on January 21, 1924, the daughter of Lawrence and Elisabeth (Wong) Chang. She entered the Congregation on October 8, 1945 and professed her religious vows on October 4, 1948.

Sister Marie ministered as a nurse at St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, after concluding her studies in China and the United States. During her lifetime, she served at various HSHS hospitals and spent many of these years at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, IL, where she shared her talents in various hospital departments.

In 1948, Sister Marie, along with other native Chinese Sisters who were members of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis came to the United States because of civil strife in China. In time, all of these Sisters became American citizens.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by three brothers: Peter, Paul, and Joseph Chang, and three sisters: Teresa Chang, Sister Agatha Chang, and Sister Mary Louise Chang (who was also a Hospital Sister of St. Francis).

She is survived by a niece, Janet Chang of Austin, TX, and one nephew, Jia Kai, of Beijing, China, as well as her Franciscan Sisters with whom she shared her life for over 72 years.

Visitation will be held at St. Francis Convent from 4-7 p.m. with a Wake Service at 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 23, 2018. The Eucharistic Celebration and Rite of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Father Andre Schludecker, OFM on Friday, August 24, 2018 at 10 a.m. in St. Clare of Assisi Adoration Chapel at St. Francis Convent. Burial will be in Crucifixion Hill Cemetery. Butler Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Please click here to read her 2007 feature story.

Statement of Support
July 18, 2018 8:05 AM

In solidarity with the statement by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding our current Administration’s immigration policy of intolerance toward asylum seekers, the leadership team of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis join with other people of faith in seeking to end the radically unjust immigration policies. Recently the cruel practices of separation of parents and children have been replaced by detention of whole families. Anti-immigration forces continue to fan fears and blame the victims of horrible violence in their countries of origin.

As women of faith, we challenge our national leaders to assume responsibility for ending our current inhumane immigration policies, and, instead, to focus on ending policies that are the cause of such desperate needs for people to seek safety in a strange and foreign land.

In 1875, 20 of our Sisters emigrated to the United States at the invitation of Bishop Baltes of the Alton, Illinois Diocese to provide health care to the German immigrants of the diocese who had fled Germany because of the cruel practices of the Dictator Bismarck. Our Congregation honors its immigrant beginnings and reaffirms its commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.

The Leadership Team of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis
Springfield, Illinois
July 13, 2018

We welcome our visitors from Japan
July 16, 2018 11:54 AM

Our visitors from Japan arrived last night and have begun their week as our guests. This annual event began in 2007 and is organized by the Japan Province of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis to engage their medical professionals in an understanding of the Franciscan spirit, an awareness of American healthcare services, and aspects of American culture. This year, Sisters Vianney and Theodora will lead a team of 15 medical professionals from Nagasaki and Himeji.

In 1948, two Hospital Sisters from the American Province who had served at St. Joseph’s Hospital (Jinan, China) arrived in Japan in response to a request for healthcare services. The American Province established a mission in Nagasaki and Himeji and in 1977 the Sisters in Japan established the Japan Province. Presently, the Japan Province sponsors St. Francis Hospital (Nagasaki – 1949), a 208 bed facility with emergency medicine, long term care, hospice, and palliative care; and St. Mary’s Hospital (Himeji – 1950), a 360 bed facility with emergency medicine, acute medicine, perinatal care, and palliative care along with an 80 bed facility for handicapped children. The Province also sponsors Francisco Villa (Tokyo – 1976), a facility for the elderly, and Maria Villa (Himeji – since 1992), a temporary care facility for the elderly. Two Korean Sisters provide pastoral care in community hospitals in Gwandju, South Korea and a Japanese Sister and Korean Sister, who serves in pastoral care in a community hospital, reside in Seoul, South Korea. As of January, there are 54 Sisters, one novice, and two pre-novices in the Japan Province.

Photo: (front row) Sumie Arai, Office Manager (Himeji), Ikuko Kakimoto, Social Worker (Himeji), Yukako Masuda, Palliative Care Nurse (Nagasaki), Akemi Sakuramoto, Head Nurse (Himeji), Sister Vianney, Nurse (Himeji), Sister Theodora, Corporate Office Staff (Himeji), Dr. Yumi Takasaki, Hematology (Nagasaki), Sanae Yasui, Physical Therapist and Manager (Himeji), and Yuko Kamei, physician resident (Himeji); (back row) Kunihiko Nohara, Physical Therapist and Chief Trainer (Himeji), Akifumi Kariya, physician resident (Himeji), Dr. Wataru Murao, Urology (Himeji), Naoko Hirooka, physican resident (Himeji), Ryota Okamoto, physican resident (Himeji), Kazuyo Akeshima, Dementia Nurse Manager (Nagasaki), Kenta Nakai, Care Manager (Himeji), and Nobuaki Fujiwara, Office Assistant Manager (Himeji).

Recent Posts
Posted: October 15, 2018 9:58 AM We rejoice as our Franciscan family increases
Posted: October 15, 2018 9:52 AM We welcome Helen Essenpreis
Posted: October 15, 2018 9:51 AM We welcome Susie Ferguson
Posted: October 15, 2018 9:50 AM We welcome David Kerwin
Posted: October 15, 2018 9:49 AM We welcome Karen Rehkemper
Posted: October 15, 2018 9:47 AM We welcome Sheila Weber
Posted: October 15, 2018 9:43 AM New saint featured in St. Francis of Assisi Church
Posted: October 1, 2018 10:43 AM Feast of St. Francis
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Hospital Sisters of St. Francis 4 849 LaVerna Road, Springfield, IL 62707 (217)522-3386
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