Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi


St. Francis, WI

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The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi is an order of Catholic sisters that work in the Franciscan tradition, which emphasizes community life and charitable works in the world. 1 Like many modern Franciscans, the order emphasizes environmentalist concerns. The order’s political action is mainly local.


In 1849, a group of Franciscan laypeople moved from Germany to Milwaukee at the request of the bishop, who wanted missionaries to the growing German population. In 1873, some split away to form a new order, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, to focus on teaching. In 2001, a small order, the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore, merged with them. 2 As of 2017, the order claimed 178 members. 3

While the order has no official ministries, it sponsors nine with varying educational, poverty assistance, and other non-political and non-advocacy missions. These include two homes for the elderly located on the convent grounds, and three homes for people with special needs, called the Cardinal Cushing Centers, in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Massachusetts. 4 It also sponsors Cardinal Stritch University, which the order founded in 1937 as St. Clare’s College. 5

The convent is located in St. Francis, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. The order’s original building was torn down in 2019 due to safety issues. 6


The order celebrates political activism on its website, which is primarily done at the local level. The group is especially active on human trafficking, climate change, liberal expansionist immigration laws, and gun control. 7 Some sisters joined in local marches on climate change, canvassed for gun control, and joined in letter-writing campaigns in support of immigrants.

Solar panels were added to the convent in 2014 to support its environmentalist activism, and in 2019 the convent was able to provide over 50 percent of its electricity through solar panels. 8

The sisters have ties to Franciscan sisters in Cameroon. They urged the state government to call for a cease-fire in that country’s civil war. 9


As a religious order, the Sisters are exempt from IRS financial reporting requirements. 10


  1. Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, How we serve, Accessed April 17, 2020.
  2. Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, History, Accessed April 17, 2020.
  3. National Religious Retirement Office, “2017 Annual Report Supplement,” Accessed April 17, 2020.
  4. Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, Corporate ministries, Accessed April 17, 2020.
  5. Cardinal Stritch University, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, Accessed April 17, 2020.
  6. Erik Hanley, “A 125-year old chapel in St. Francis is going to be demolished despite initial plan to save it,” October 2, 2019. Accessed April 17, 2020.
  7. Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, Social Justice, Accessed April 17, 2020.
  8. [1] Jeff Alexander, “Sisters of St. Francis celebrate solar expansion,” August 28, 2019. Accessed April 17, 2020.
  9. Facebook, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi profile, Cameroon letter-writing page, March 12, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2020.[0]=68.ARB8OMx4No3eKN2DojHRn1yAr1S3FzOITDwCM2VaMbdEn6SNTV5iKbgxpKSqq5rqZFSlAlZWxjC8Qymw2lXuEEpWNh8MR2gCiN0ybxz3wI7Y4mhuJURjbTLHKM97URbTKYLoIlMm6pXi0E0zAMDZSHgdS3tZUmk40W30XwipX_WgG0bBbpia1ePGX4R3GZ-5M4jjuCwoVRVi-bhhN2jtk7TpJKziY_LTzuKQtPBZRGNj56XJ30-OhxW_oSR6C7BaEHMYSOS0BJ4rrYPKfxW2nQq4gUDwGGTJfGYNaYycqDYhBAtoU69eGKpiQy-H3K50bP7IXzKFtgN_TfCpX_Ao-in80NThU1lVD9QaBXC_KhhbAA3dzNUIRK8R5EAwg95oMXyPA0m7UMhF508GpFtGQDPcx_ZNXggH-XXeF9a8sPudAP1OI9uq97-YXCHpnf9rSb50fea1b5Rj3C7S683y&__tn__=-R
  10. IRS, “Annual exempt organization return: Who must file,” January 9, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2020.
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Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis, WI