In May, 1876, when the Kulturkampf drove their community from the Duchy of Baden, Mother M. Anastasia with three other Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart came to this country to find a home. They were received by the Right Rev. Joseph Dwenger, Bishop of Fort Wayne, and bought a small farm near Avilla, Ind. In September the same year, another band of Sisters arrived. Not having sufficient means, they could only erect a few frame buildings, but nevertheless they gave shelter to eight orphan children from the vicinity.
Through the influence of the Franciscan Fathers, some of the Sisters were called to Joliet, Ill., where they commenced to nurse the sick in private houses (December, 1880). In 1882 a house was purchased, and remodeled as a hospital and on August 12 the Sisters moved into it. It was called St. Joseph’s Hospital. Financial difficulties prevented the community from building a new home at Avilla, and the prospects being more favorable for the future in Joliet, the MotherHouse was transferred thither on January 26, 1883, where it was incorporated under the title: “An Association of Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart.”
The Constitutions of the congregation were approved by the Holy See in 1898. Its object is the practise of the works of charity, by nursing the sick, caring for the poor, the aged and the suffering, and by instructing children in parochial schools. It had more than 400 members in 1912. In course of time a new St. Joseph’s Hospital was built, and, a few years later, an addition to it, the old building being now exclusively used for the Sisters.
The community has established the following institutions and schools: St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Danville, Ill.; St. Francis’ Hospital, Freeport, Ill.; St. Mary’s Hospital, La Salle, lll.; St. Joseph’s Home and Hospital, San Francisco, Cal.; Home for the Aged, built on the old farm near A villa, Ind.; Hospital of St. Anthony of Padua, W. 19th Street, Chicago, Ill.; St. Charles’ Hospital, Aurora, Ill.; Sacred Heart Hospital, Garrett, Ind; St. Joseph’s Hospital, Elgin, Ill.; St. Francis’ Hospital, Santa Barbara, Cal.; St. Vincent’s Orphanage, Freeport, Ill. (recently ceded to the diocese of Rockford, for a diocesan orphanage); St. Joseph’s School, Peru, Ill.; St. Joseph’s School, Lockport, Ill.; St. Joseph’s School, Danville, Ill.; Sacred Heart School, Springfield, Ill.; St. Joseph’s School, Dyer, Ind..
The Catholic Church in the United States of America, Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee, Pope Pius X (Three Volumes), Volume II: The Religious Communities of Women (New York: The Catholic Editing Company, 1914), 197-198.