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. As the congregation grew, three Provinces were established: Stevens Point, Wisconsin (1903); Garfield Heights, Ohio (1926); and Chicago, Illinois (1936).
The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (SSJ-TOSF) 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.
Today, the SSJ-TOSF is a congregation of over 250 vowed sisters serving in diverse ministries including education, healthcare, parish/pastoral work, counseling, business, and foreign mission work. Our sisters serve in 14 states, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Peru and South Africa.