… may they all be one …” John 17:21
The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities were officially founded on July 11, 2004 when three New York State-based congregations of Franciscan sisters united to form a new congregation. The union of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Virgin of Hastings-on-Hudson, the Sisters of St. Francis Third Order Regular of Buffalo (Williamsville Franciscans), and the Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order of Syracuse was the first union of Franciscan congregations in the U.S. During the process that formed the new congregation, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Divine Child merged with the sisters in Williamsville and became part of the new union. In August 2007, the Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale, Pennsylvania merged with the Syracuse-based congregation, making it one of the largest Franciscan congregations in the U.S.
These four congregations grew from common roots — the same Philadelphia, Pennsylvania congregation founded by Sister Mary Francis Bachmann, Sister Mary Margaret Boll and Sister Bernardina Dorn in 1855. Under the guidance of St. John Neumann (then Bishop of Philadelphia), these sisters provided education and health care to immigrants in New York and Pennsylvania.
Our Historical Timeline
1860 — Mother Francis Bachmann sends six sisters from Philadelphia to Utica and Syracuse, New York.
1860 — Third Franciscan Order of Syracuse, New York formed when Bishop of Philadelphia James F. Wood tells Sister Bernardina Dorn and Sister Antonia Eulenstein that sisters serving in central New York would be incorporated into Albany, New York diocese.
1861 — Sisters in Philadelphia respond to call to serve in the Diocese of Buffalo. They arrived Dec. 18 with 75 cents in their pockets, 50 cents of which went to have their luggage delivered.
1863 — Sisters in Buffalo become a new community for the Diocese of Buffalo.
1865 — Sisters from Buffalo go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and open St. Francis Hospital. The 29 sisters ministering there become part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1871.
1882 — Sisters from Buffalo move to New York City to assist Father John Drumgoole at his institution for homeless youth.
1883 — Mother Marianne Cope, now St. Marianne, takes five sisters to the Sandwich Islands, now Hawaii, to care for those afflicted with the Hansen’s disease (leprosy), in response to a request.
1893 — Twenty-one sisters return to Buffalo and 28 sisters remain in the New York City area to form the nucleus of a new community known as the Sisters of St. Francis of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin. The community eventually builds its motherhouse in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
1970s — The six communities of Franciscan sisters stemming from the community started by Sister Mary Francis Bachmann, Sister Mary Margaret Boll and Sister Bernardina Dorn become reacquainted.
1997 — Major superiors of the three congregations located in Hastings-on-Hudson, Syracuse and Williamsville (Diocese of Buffalo) begin meeting informally. Following this the three leadership teams began to meet. By 1999, the leadership teams of the three congregations stated, “We will explore intentionally and together a shared future.”
1997 — The leadership teams announce exploration of a shared future. Over four years, a task group meets, plans and communicates their progress to the congregations.
Nov. 29, 2003 — The three communities vote unanimously to unite.
July 14, 2004 — The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities officially forms and holds its first General Chapter.
2005 — Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale, Pennsylvania send a formal letter of petition for merger with the newly formed Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
April 18, 2007 — The Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale vote to merge with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. Incorporation ceremonies are held in August.