In December 2015, the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio entered their 100th year of mission and ministry, with a year-long celebration of the Sisters coming to the Toledo area.
Responding to a request in 1916 from Bishop Joseph Schrembs, 23 Franciscan Sisters from Rochester, Minnesota, came to northwest Ohio to teach Polish immigrants in the Diocese of Toledo. Under the direction of Sister Mary Adelaide Sandusky, soon to be known as Mother Adelaide, the Sisters were first stationed at St. Hedwig School in Toledo. In 1917, they purchased 89 acres of land in Sylvania and formally established the Motherhouse of what is now known as the Sisters of St. Francis, Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, of Sylvania, Ohio.
In 1918, the Sisters responded to another request from the Bishop, as five Sylvania Franciscans went to Gypsum, Ohio, near Sandusky, on the shores of Lake Erie to care for victims of the flu pandemic that was sweeping the country. In 1921, the Sisters were asked to manage a hospital in Ashland, Kentucky, which began their entry into healthcare ministry.
Extending a hand
Since 1917, the Sisters have taught in 125 schools in 13 states while also ministering in 20 hospitals in seven states. Over the years, 129 out of 521 Sylvania Franciscans entered the convent from the Diocese of Toledo, adapting their ministry in response to God’s call and the values of St. Francis and St. Clare by serving the changing needs of the human family. Committed to reverence and respect, the Sisters of St. Francis are active in peace and justice issues along with environmental concerns.
“Celebrating the Centennial year of our Congregation gives us reason to reflect on 100 years of Sylvania Franciscans living our mission in active ministries,” said Sister Mary Jon Wagner, Congregational Minister for the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania. “Our ministries reach in and beyond seven states and Haiti. We have congregationally-sponsored ministries in education- Lourdes University social services, Sophia Counseling Center, Bethany House (for victims of domestic violence), Rosary Care Center (for long term care) and Our Lady of Grace (assisted living).
“We also have a variety of services that provide support for our Sisters in many other areas. Our spirituality and prayer ministries through our members, and especially our retired Sisters, are a strong spirit in our community. We have much to be thankful for over our 100 years. We feel we bring a Franciscan Spirit in Life and Mission to all we have and continue to touch.”
A community of sisterhood
Placing their individual gifts and talents in service to the needs of God’s people, the Sylvania Franciscans today are engaged in such diverse ministries as education, healthcare, social services, religious education, media, law, art, parish and retreat ministries, and spiritual direction. Additionally, they operate All Good Things, the Sylvania Franciscan Art and Gift Shop, where the Sisters share their gifts and talents with the public. The shop is located on the Motherhouse grounds near Queen of Peace Chapel.
July 16: Anniversary of Mother Adelaide’s first vows. Picnic/ice cream social for community leaders, partners in ministry; at the Motherhouse.
August 11: Feast day of St. Clare; Mass in Queen of Peace Chap
October 4: Feast day of St. Francis; Mass in Queen of Peace Chapel followed by a social function.
December 8: close Centennial with Mass in Queen of Peace Chapel followed by a social function. 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania.
The Sophia Center:
Bethany House: 419-727-4948
Rosary Care Center:
Our Lady of Grace: 567-455-0414
All Good Things:
All Good Things Hours: 9am-5pm
Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm Saturday.