Led by the Holy Spirit to embrace the Gospel life of continual conversion, through prayer, community and service, in the tradition of Francis, Clare and Mother Alfred, we, Rochester Franciscan Sisters and Cojourners, commit ourselves to be a compassionate presence for peace in our world, striving for justice and reverence for all creation.
Rochester Franciscan Sisters are involved in many aspects of the community. They minister to prisoners, serve as therapists and administrators, artists and writers. They serve in parishes as pastoral ministers and on institutional and community boards.
Who Are Franciscans?
Franciscans are simply persons who follow the way of St. Francis and St. Clare — and thus of Jesus and the Gospel. The Rochester Franciscans live according to the Rule of St. Francis, a document based largely on Scripture. Most important for us today is bringing the spirit of St. Francis into the 21st Century. The essence of living our life is our relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Crest of the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis, Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rochester, Minnesota, contains: upper left, Franciscan arms; lower left, North Star, sign of the state of Minnesota where the order was founded in 1877; upper right, Lion of Assisi, Italy, birthplace of the order; lower right, seal of Lourdes, France, where Mary appeared in 1858, as Our Lady of Lourdes, now patroness of the Congregation. The center cross is made by overlapping two Franciscan prayers, “Deus Meus et Omnia,” and “Pax et Bonum,” for seven centuries used by Franciscans as a greeting of peace and good. The whole is bounded by the cord with three knots signifying vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
San Damiano Crucifix
When St. Francis was searching for his way in life and was in doubt and confusion, he came into the ruined church of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy. As he knelt before this crucifix praying, he heard Jesus calling to him, “Go, Francis, and rebuild my house, which as you see, is falling into ruin.” Francis left transformed with a mission and a vocation that was soon to be shared by thousands of brothers and sisters. He responded with his whole being. This crucifix now hangs in the church of St. Clare in Assisi.
Over the years, the TAU cross has been worn on the forehead and has been placed on letters, doorways and walls. In ancient Palestine, the TAU referred to a stone marker to signify possession or belonging. Others used the TAU to symbolize the tree of life, regeneration, divine power and hidden wisdom. It is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet and speaks of concepts of finality and forever. In an early Christian text, the Didache, the TAU means the “Word of God.”
For Francis, the TAU cross was the symbol of the internal conversion that must take place in order to truly follow in the footsteps of Christ. Francis often signed his letters with the TAU and made it a part of the community tradition among the brothers. Wherever it is used, the TAU signifies the will to personal conversion and the desire for reform in the Church. For Francis, it meant a sign of belonging to Christ, and it identifies its wearer as a wholly committed follower of the way of Jesus. Today, as shown in the example, it is a symbol of consecration for the followers of Christ in the charism/spirit of St. Francis.
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The Archives Office at Assisi Heights is responsible for documenting the experience of the Sisters of Saint Francis in Rochester, Minnesota. Records and materials relevant to the origin, development, spirit and history are organized, preserved, protected, and when appropriate, made available. Since 1877, the Congregation has been involved in health care, education (elementary to college level), parish ministry, pastoral care, social justice and other ministries across the United States and in other countries; most notably, Colombia, Peru and Cambodia.
In addition, the Congregational Archives includes some material on the following, or can direct you to the appropriate contact person for: Saint Marys Hospital (now part of Mayo Clinic), founded in 1889; the College of Saint Teresa, Winona, Minnesota (sponsored by the Congregation from 1907-1989); Cojourners, lay associates affiliated with our Congregation.
The collection includes documents, photos and artifacts related to individual members, ministries, properties and governance from the time of the founding of the Congregation until the present day. Some materials are confidential. Contact Archivist for specifics, Monday thru Friday at: 507-282-7441, ext. 222, or click on the button below to email Sister Marisa McDonald.