Franciscan Footprints

Process of Formation for the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis

Process of FormationBecoming who God meant us to be is a process and formation – a life-long journey!  Each day, each moment of our life, we are learning and growing.  Every activity we undertake or goal we strive to achieve requires a training or a learning period.  This is true also for someone entering religious life. The process of formation has several stages that incorporate you more deeply into what is expected in religious and community life.

The first step is the candidacy – getting to know the community.


The “candidate” stage has no set time limit. During this stage the candidate becomes more familiar with us by visiting and meeting with the Vocation Director to keep discerning God’s call. A candidate continues to live independently. When she and the Vocation Director feels she is has the needed qualifications, and is ready, she can begin the application process to enter the community.  My “candidate” stage was approximately 9 months between my first contact with our vocations director (a phone call) and submitting my application.

The Postulancy and Novitiate, the first stages in formation, begins the transformation of a young woman desiring to consecrate her life to God into a member of a religious community, living and giving her every moment, word, action and thought for God’s glory and honor.

Stage 1: Postulancy

Read more: Process of Formation for the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis

Introducing Sister Joy Marie, O.S.F.!

Sister Joy Marie, O.S.F.On August 5th, I was blessed to take the next step in my journey as a religious in the Catholic Church.  Received into the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis, the private ceremony was held in the chapel at our motherhouse in East Peoria.  I have been given the name of Sister Joy Marie.  After I give you a little background, I’ll tell you how our community navigates this tradition and how I selected my preferred religious name.

Why do some Sisters and Nuns change their names?

What is the reasoning behind a nun or sister choosing a religious name? Where does the significance come from? How is a religious name determined?  These questions are answered very concisely on “A Nun’s Life” Ministry blog.  The second half of another, more scholarly article, from the Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, called Taking the Veil: Clothing and the Transformation of Identity on Names and Transformed Identities, really goes into the history and tradition of why religious change their names.

Sister Mary Fulgentia.  Mother Mary Conegunde.  Sister Hortulana.  Sister Mary Pelagia.  Sister Mary Blondina.  Sister Mary Dominic.  And my favorite, Sister Mary Hilaria.  These are all names of deceased Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis.  May they rest in peace.  But who are their patron saints?  As explained in A Nun’s Life blog, the names could be of a particular favorite or patron saint, or the name of a parent or the patron saint of their parish.  But let’s look at each of these, more unusual, names.  Their patron saints may have been:

Read more: Introducing Sister Joy Marie, O.S.F.!

Our Pilgrimage Through the Holy Doors

Sisters Walking Through Holy DoorOn July 16, 2016, the anniversary of the founding of our community, the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis made a pilgrimage to one of the two jubilee doors here in Peoria. In four vehicles, we car pooled our way to Saint Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Peoria. Welcomed by Monsignor Stanley Deptula, we made our way to the back of the church so we could each enter through the Holy Door. Sister Judith Ann then led us in a short prayer service that included the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

As many of you know, this year is an extraordinary jubilee year of mercy. What’s the big deal? Even though you can find this information elsewhere, I'll share some of the "big deal" with you now.

Read more: Our Pilgrimage Through the Holy Doors

2016 Founders Day

Sisters in PrayerOn July 16th, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis celebrated their 139th anniversary of the founding of their community!  The Sisters & OSF employees started the annual remembrance with a laying of flowers and prayerful reading at the grave site of Foundress Mother M. Francis Krasse, at old St Joseph's cemetery in West Peoria.

Fr Baak HeadstoneTheir journey began in 1875 when a small group of religious sisters left Germany to escape religious persecution.  Originally settling in Iowa City, Iowa, a few of the members journeyed to Peoria where they met Father Bernard Baak, the pastor of what was then Saint Joseph’s Church, who invited the Sisters to return to Peoria to meet the healthcare needs of the growing community.  With permission from their superior back in Iowa City, six pioneering Sisters began operating a small hospital in Peoria.

Read more: 2016 Founders Day

Why the Habit? Part 2

The Meaning Behind Our Habit

Our Religious habit is a visible sign and can be an instrument God can use to draw others closer to Himself.  Here is an explanation of the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis' habit.

Tau Cross in the HabitReligious Habit – When we extend our arms horizontally, we present the image of the Tau Cross.  (On our model here, to the right, the sleeves are more fitted than on our actual habit.  Typically, the width of the sleeve is wider, to show the horizontal piece of the cross.  Actually, I think our model has stiff shoulders, too, and really just wants to play airplane!)  The reason for Francis’ devotion to the sign of the “Tau Cross” can be traced to Ezekiel 9:4 where it became the sign of conversion.  The very shape of the letter “T” reminded Francis of his Crucified Lord.  Francis signed himself with the Tau of penance.  “Your Franciscan religious habit is a symbol of the cross of Christ on which He redeemed the world.  As you wear the habit, be attentive to always give witness to the power of His redemptive love to the world.”  As we put the habit on each morning, we pray, “I will clothe myself with the garment of penance and joy for sacrifice is the language of love.”

Read more: Why the Habit? Part 2