Mother M. Frances, O.S.F

Mother M. Frances Krasse, O.S.F.

Biography

She was born March 23, 1839 in Herbern, Germany, the fifth of six children, and was named Theresia.

  • She was the third young woman to join Mother M. Xavier Termehr in the new Franciscan community in Herford, Germany in November of 1864.
  • On August 21, 1875, as a result of Bismarck’s May Laws, the whole community of 25 sisters and four postulants boarded the P. Caland and sailed to America. They settled in Iowa City, Iowa with the help of a priest they had met in Germany.
  • On October 28, 1876, she and five other sisters arrived in Peoria. Mother Xavier had sent them, at the request of a local parish priest, to start a hospital there, which they called St. Francis Hospital. Sister M. Frances Krasse was appointed the local superior there.
  • May 1, 1877 the first bishop of Peoria was appointed, Bishop John Lancaster Spalding. Soon after his arrival in Peoria he observed the poverty of the Sisters and their difficulties. Already by that time the sisters, nine by then, were maintaining their hospital, the city hospital and contagious hospital, and nursing people in their homes. Bishop Spalding promised them his help if Mother Xavier would allow them to form their own separate congregation. This happened July 16, 1877 and Mother M. Frances was elected the first Mother General of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis at the age of 38.
  • Things were developing rapidly for the Sisters in those early years; many new sisters and several new hospitals.
  • In March of 1885, shortly after the death of her younger sister, Sister M. Augustine, Mother M. Frances fell gravely ill with tuberculosis.
  • She died at 5:15 AM on October 28, 1885, nine years to the day from her arrival in Peoria. She was 46 years old.
"Dear Sisters, keep yourselves in strict accord with the rules and statutes. Live in meekness and obedience. Nurse the sick with the greatest care and love, then will God’s blessing be with you."

-Mother Frances' Last Words to her Sisters


God Provides

Mother M. Frances had the custom, whenever a crisis arose, she would go immediately to the Chapel and kneel right next to the Tabernacle and remain there until the situation was resolved. The other Sisters came to accept this posture and felt confident that everything would turn out for the best, for it seemed that God could not refuse her prayers.

On one occasion the Sisters reported to Mother M. Frances that their food supplies were dangerously low and that even with begging they did not have enough food to feed the patients they were caring for, much less themselves. Mother M. Frances went immediately to the Chapel and began praying. Within a short time one of the Sisters came to her with concern that a food delivery wagon was parked in front to the house, loaded with food supplies, but that no driver could be found. The wagon remained there the entire day. The Sisters didn’t want the food to perish, so they unloaded the food and stored it in the cellar of the house until the driver returned. The next morning the truck was gone. After a few days the Sisters realized that God had answered their prayers and they had enough food for many days.


Exchange of Promises

When Sister Mary Frances Krasse and her five companions arrived in Peoria in October of 1876 to begin caring for the sick, they first went to St. Joseph’s Church on the South side of Peoria for a visit. They became familiar with the parish Church and its German pastor, Father Bernard Baak on earlier begging trips to Peoria. The Sisters walked into the Church and went up to the front. Sister M. Frances Krasse said out loud in the hearing of her companions: “I promise you, God, I will never turn anyone away you send to me for care.” And then, after a brief pause, and almost as if she had heard a response to her promise, she turned to her companions and said: “The God who called us to Peoria will be the God who will always provide for us.”