Our History

The example of our early pioneer Sisters and our history over the years teaches us again and again how God always fulfills His promise to provide for us. Our history also teaches us that we must follow wherever Christ leads us, trusting in His wisdom and merciful love.

History of Our Founding

Nov. 1864
Sister M. Xavier establishes a local community under the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. She is joined by four postulants, one of whom was Theresia Krasse.

Late Summer, 1875
Due to religious persecution in Germany, 25 sisters and four postulants give up their orphanage and leave the country. They settle in Iowa City.


May 22, 1876

The Sisters open their new orphanage and school, Mount Mary. Due to their poverty, Mother Xavier sends Sisters out on begging trips to other Midwestern states to raise funds. On one of these trips, they come to the German-American community in Peoria, Illinois and meet Fr. Bernard Baak, pastor of St. Joseph Church. Fr. Baak asks them to send more sisters back to Peoria to set up a hospital.


Oct. 28, 1876

Six sisters, led by Sister M. Frances Krasse, arrive in Peoria to set up a Hospital in a rented three-story house on Adam’s Street. They named the hospital St. Francis Hospital. 


When Sister Mary Frances Krasse and her companions arrived in Peoria to begin caring for the sick, they first visited St. Joseph’s Church on the South side of Peoria. As they sat at the front of the church, 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.” After a brief pause, 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.”


March 1877

The city requests that the Sisters take charge of the old city hospital and the connected contagious hospital. The first Bishop of Peoria, Bishop John Lancaster Spalding, visits the Sisters and sees their financial struggles.


July 16, 1877

At the request of Bishop Spalding, the Sisters are released to form their own separate congregation, the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Peoria, Illinois. Mother M. Frances Krasse is elected their first Mother General.

“Our founding Sisters started with so little, and God asked so much of them. They could have said, ‘No, this is too much. We can’t do this!’ But they gave themselves wholeheartedly, trusting in God to provide the rest.”