The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, members of a multi-cultural Franciscan congregation with headquarters in Germany, are currently hosting a meeting of their international congregation at St. Francis Convent in Springfield. The meeting began Sept. 6 and will run through Sept. 22, said Brian Blasco, director of Communications and provincial archivist.
While many people in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois recognize the Hospital Sisters as a significant provider of healthcare since 1875 — and know that they continue that legacy through their HSHS hospitals and other ministries — there is more to understand, said Blasco. “They are members of an international congregation who also serve those in need throughout the world.”
The General Chapter of Elections and Affairs for the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, the highest decision-making authority of the congregation, is a meeting held every six years. There, the leadership team is elected. At that time, decisions are also made that provide direction for the international congregation which has provinces in Germany, Poland, Japan, India and the United States. Currently more than 700 Franciscan sisters serve in those countries and in The Netherlands, South Korea and Kazakhstan.
“The sisters have elected their 26 delegates to the general chapter (a representation from each province) and these delegates represent the sisters’ interest in the chapter in Springfield,” Blasco said. The meeting taking place in Springfield is historical, he said. “This is the first time in the sisters’ 174-year history that the chapter will not be held in Germany, due to property restrictions at the motherhouse.”
South Dakota native Sister Sherrey Murphy, OSF, who has been the most recent general superior, said, “As an international congregation, you will notice differences in our nationalities and dress. However, the core of our congregation rests in ‘being and bringing the healing presence of Christ’ into our world, wherever we are and whatever we do.”
The general leadership of the conference is responsible for ensuring that the members of the congregation and its ministries are oriented to the life of Jesus Christ and St. Francis, she she said. Prior to Sister Sherrey’s leadership, Sister Mary Ann Minor, OSF, who was born in Taylorville and raised in Stonington, was the general superior.
Others participating in the September general chapter include Professor Dr. Friar Michael Plattig, O.Carm., educator and spiritual director of the motherhouse community in Muenster, who is serving as a consultant along with the process facilitators Father Hans-Bern Koeppen and Professor Dr. Margaret Nemann, both of the Diocese of Muenster. There are two German/English translators, two Japanese/English translators, and two Polish/German/English translators to facilitate communication between the chapter delegates.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki was to have presided over the election of the congregation’s general superior at the Chiara Center in Springfield on Sept. 14. The new general superior was to then oversee the election of the general vicaress and two general councilors. The superior, vicaress and councilors form the congregation’s leadership team in Muenster. Because the congregation is of Papal Rite, all major decisions of the five provinces require Vatican approval through the general superior.
More coverage of the international meeting will appear in the Sept 30 issue of Catholic Times.