The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, are marking the congregation's 100th anniversary with a yearlong celebration that included a Mass on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, and upcoming Masses on the feast days of St. Clare and St. Francis; a picnic and ice cream social.
The congregation traces its beginnings to 1916, when 23 Franciscan Sisters traveled from Rochester, Minn., to Toledo, Ohio, to respond to a request from the Bishop of Toledo for help teaching Polish immigrants. Two years later, at the request of the bishop, five sisters traveled to Gypsum, Ohio, to tend to flu pandemic patients.
The sisters began managing hospitals in 1921. Since then, the congregation has sponsored, managed or served in 20 hospitals in seven states, with much of the expansion of the Sylvania Franciscans' health care ministry happening in the mid-1970s. In 1984, the congregation consolidated its sponsored health and human services ministries into a system called Franciscan Services Corporation, which was later renamed Sylvania Franciscan Health.
In November 2014, the sisters transferred sponsorship of Sylvania Franciscan Health's seven hospitals, seven long-term care facilities and four assisted living facilities to Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives. The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania became CHI's 13th participating congregation. The sisters retained sole sponsorship of an organization called Sylvania Franciscan Ministries, which includes a skilled nursing facility that primarily serves the congregation's elderly sisters, an assisted living facility that exclusively serves the sisters, an apartment complex for seniors, a long-term shelter and a counseling center.
There now are about 150 Sylvania Franciscan sisters and 70 associates, the vast majority of them laypeople who commit to join the sisters in promoting Franciscan values.
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