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c3 01After the death of Mother Frances on December 14, 1876, the grieving Congregation continued its ministries under the leadership of Superior General Fulgentia van Endert. Not long after Mother Frances’s death, Sarah Peter died imparting another sorrow to the Congregation.  

Meanwhile the Kulturkampf still prohibited the acceptance of new members in Prussia. In 1877 temporary and final vows were pronounced for the first time outside of Germany, in Andrimont, Belgium. At this time in Germany, the second- and even third-year postulants desired a closer union with the Congregation. As a compromise, the elder postulants were granted reception into the Third Order of St. Francis, given a religious name, and allowed to share in community exercises. They were given a black cap and referred to as “Bonnet Novices.” Eight of these “Bonnet Novices” were sent to North America, where they eventually received the habit.

c3 02Sister Fulgentia van EndertIn 1882 the Superior General Vincentia Mulbach asked the German government to finally allow the admission of new members. During the Kulturkampf, 90 Sisters had died and many more were unable to work. There were not enough members to serve the poor and sick during epidemics, war, and other emergencies. The Congregation was given permission to receive 120 new members during the next year. On February 6, 1883, for the first time since the Kulturkampf, 25 Sisters celebrated the profession of their perpetual vows in the Mother House in Aachen.

During this time the Congregation established many new ministries in Germany including: a boarding house for servants and workers in Bonn; nursing care for sick individuals in their homes in Mainz; a hospital and orphanage in Euskirchen; administration of a new Municipal shelter for the poor of Düsseldorf; nursing care in homes and later a hospital in Bergisch Gladbach; a day care center and kindergarten in Crefeld; a home for elderly women in Bonn; a new hospital in Ratingen; and a large city hospital in Siegburg.

c3 04Sister Willeyka van EndertSister Willeyka van Endert was appointed United States Vicar in 1882. She was distressed by the Congregation’s promise to build a hospital in Cincinnati. Sister Vincentia Maubach, the previous Vicar, had frequently stated that she would commence building only if God should send ten thousand dollars. Reuben Springer, a great benefactor and affiliate, then died in 1884 leaving twenty thousand dollars that was used to build St. Francis Hospital.

Other new establishments in the United States included St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton, OH; St. Margaret Hospital in Kansas City, KS; St. Joseph Hospital on 143rd Street in New York City, NY; and St. Anthony Hospital in Columbus, OH.


c3 03The school in Krefeld c3 05St. Francis Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio


In 1884 in Aachen, 29 postulants were invested and began a full year of novitiate, fulfilling the desire of Archbishop Paul Melchers that the novices spend one year entirely in the novitiate house. At the height of the Kulturkampf, this had not been possible since the novices were needed in the branch c3 06Sisters to work in the General House of Aachenhouses. Senior novices were given three months’ preparation before professing their temporary vows.  

Also during this year, the Congregation received civil and ecclesial permission to purchase the former Dominican monastery on Lindenplatz. The Mother House at Kleinmarschierstrasse was no longer adequate for the growing congregation. In 1893 the sick Sisters were transferred to their new home in a newly renovated part of the Dominican building, which they renamed St. Francis Convent. By Pentecost the renovations were complete enough for the Mother House to also be relocated to the Dominican building. On September 14, the remains of Mother Frances, at the time in a tomb in the convent at Kleinmarschierstrasse, were transferred to the Dominican building. The building on Kleinmarschierstrasse became St. Clare Convent.

In 1893 novices Antonina Blickhans and Aquilina Kroeger in the United States were selected to receive religious training in Aachen. Church authorities also began to stress regular instruction in Christian Doctrine. Rev. Bernard Nurre, OSF, was appointed to give our Sisters in the United States weekly instruction. Rev. Ignatius Jeiler published the biography of Mother Frances in 1893. A copy for each house was sent to America. The first English translation of the biography was done by Rev. Bonaventure Hammer, OSF, in 1895.

c3 08Sister Desideria Wolffc3 07The burial of Mother Frances in S.Clara, LindenplatzIn 1894 Sister Desideria Wolff received permission from Mother Willeyka to look for a more suitable house in Cincinnati for the novitiate. A site in Hartwell was purchased in 1894, and the cornerstone was laid in 1895. The cemetery was dedicated on July 11, 1896, upon occasion of the burial of Sister Columba Voss. In the same year, St. Clare Convent was dedicated on October 29, and the Recluses began their adoration there on November 5. The remaining Sisters moved in on November 28 and 29, following a ritual with procession and prayers through each room of St. Clare Convent, in the midst of tears and gratitude.

In Germany on the Feast of St. Joseph in 1899, the first four aspirants were received in their new quarters in a former Aachen school building. St. Raphael’s House was designated specifically for the temporarily professed and was opened on April 21. There they were completely separated from the novices and perpetually professed Sisters. The mistress of novices joined them and soon began their daily instruction in catechism and regarding the vows, constitutions, and customs.

In the United States in 1900 there were 459 members. Upon the 50th Anniversary of the Investiture of Mother Frances and her first Sisters in 1901, there were some 1400 members and more than 50 institutions.


c3 09The community of St. Elizabeth Hospital, Covington, Kentucky, USA, in 1884

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Published: September 19, 2014