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C 10 011968 general chapter group photo


C 10 05Mother M. Innocenta Donnelly Superior General

C 10 03Srs Nancy Daniel, Mary Rosaria, Grace Frances Strauber delegates to 1968
C 10 0223 Middagh 1969 group on steps: Mary Virginia Schreiner, Rita K Kerr, Innocenta Donnelly front

The 1968 General Chapter was the Congregation’s Renewal Chapter, following the Second Vatican Council. One of the decisions made was to move the house of government from Rome to the United States on an experimental basis. The principal reason for this was the distribution of the Congregation’s membership and works: of the 480 professed Sisters, 25 were in Brazil, 45 in Italy, and 410 in the United States. It seemed logical that the general administration should be located closest to the vast majority of the membership, while maintaining close ties of communication and helping to more strongly unify the Congregation.  Such a move did not negate the valid reasons for the original establishment of the general house in Rome in 1948; but rather, the move was a sign of the mobility that is characteristic of an apostolic congregation of the pilgrim Church and of the necessity for periodic evaluation with openness to change. According to this decision, there was to be “One central house of government located in the U.S. consisting of the Superior General, 1st assistant, 2 additional General Councilors and general Treasurer all elected by the Chapter and a general secretary selected by the Superior General.”

They are:
Mother M. Innocenta Donnelly – Superior General
Sr. Rose Margaret Delaney – 1stAssistant
Sr. Mary James Kerr (Rita K.) –Councilor
Sr. M. Ann Regina Daniel (Nancy) – Councilor
Sr. Grace Frances Strauber - General Treasurer
Sr. Mary Virginia Schreiner - General Secretary

In November 1968, following the Chapter directive not to build or buy a general house, Sisters Mary James (Rita K.) Kerr and Grace Frances Strauber began looking for a location in New York. They had only found one possible residence when Francis Mugavero, Bishop of Brooklyn, suggested several locations in his diocese. The Sisters decided on a former convent of Assumption Parish at 23 Middagh Street. The Bishop generously offered the house rent-free during the three-year experimental period, beginning on January 1, 1969.

C 10 0423 Middagh street: winter 1969 
Picture9Bishop Mugavero bless the new offices at Remsen Street

The Sisters stayed at St. Francis Hospital in Jersey City, New Jersey, until the house in Brooklyn was ready for occupancy. After four long months of preparation, which included repairs, painting, and renovations, the house was ready. In mid-April the six sisters finally moved in. In September Sister Marietta Ginn joined them as a much needed housekeeper, organizer, cook, and parish visitor. The house served as their residence and office, with offices and workspaces scattered throughout the house, including the dining room and basement.
The delegates of the 1971 General Chapter decided to permanently transfer the General House of Government from Frascati, Italy, to Brooklyn, New York.  Most of the property at the former Generalate in Frascati was sold in 1972.  
By 1974 the staff included several lay employees. The house on Middagh was overcrowded and the outdated electrical system was overloaded. The Congregation was looking for more space, and Bishop Mugavero again suggested a building in his diocese, this time at the Brooklyn Diocesan Catholic Charities located at 191 Joralemon Street.  Four offices were rented at this address. The main offices, however, remained at Middagh Street.

In 1979 all of the offices moved into the newly remodeled third floor at 191 Joralemon. At the open house Bishop Francis Mugavero said, “The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor have been not only a presence but a real influence here in the diocese of Brooklyn. You are a powerhouse of hope, light and faith. We thank you for all you have contributed and continue to contribute to the Church in this diocese.” Twenty-three Middagh Street remained a residence and Congregational community.  
By 1988 the Health System Offices and Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation expanded to 186 Joralemon Street.  That same year the Congregation signed an extended lease with the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn for office space at 133 Remsen Street.  The Congregational Office moved to Remsen Street in June.  An open house and blessing were held on September 28, when Bishop Mugavero blessed the new offices as well as those at 186 Joralemon.

C 10 06191 Joralemon, sisters working in the offices: srs Jeanne M. Glisky, Margie Ferri, Mary Madonna Hoying, Marilyn Fischer, Marie Clement Edrich, Rose Margaret Delaney

Published: October 17, 2016

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