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Our History

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Our Community descends from three women who set out to follow God more closely in the Swiss Alps in 1378. Over time, other women came to join them and a community of contemplatives developed. We were formally established as a community of Third Order Regular Franciscans in Grimmenstein Switzerland in 1424

We weathered the events of history in humility and service, surviving the trials of the reformation period and the following strife by reliance on God. Unfortunately, the Canton our Motherhouse was established in became protestant, creating an awkward situation for us. Over time, this would create legal problems for our community, as it struggled to maintain its right to exist.

Because of the pressure from the Kulturkampf movement and the Protestant government of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, the Swiss Canton where our convent was located, we began searching for a place to establish a new house in the United States. If the situation in Switzerland became too difficult, the community would be able to relocate in entirety.

American Establishment

After decades of prayer and discernment, a way opened, and we were invited by (then) Father Ignatius Conrad, soon to be first abbot of New Subiaco, in Arkansas, to help him establish a seminary High School in Nevada, Missouri.

Five Sisters were chosen to lead this effort: Sister John Hau, Sister Basilia Keung, Sister Bonaventure Rosenberg, Sister Xavier Blatter, and Sister Bernadine Faeh. Upon arrival, the sisters spent time with the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, learning English and preparing to work in a day school for children. Sister John was elected as the first superior of the new house.

When the sisters arrived in Nevada, they found the plan in shambles - Fr. Ignatius had been elected Abbot of New Subiaco and would not be establishing a seminary. We purchased the building intended for this use and began operating a school.

A few. years later, a man brought his children to the Mother John. His wife had died and he needed help caring for them. From this encounter, an orphanage was born. We provided full time care for children at St. Francis Orphan Home from 1896 until 1946.

Mission in Brazil

From 1978 until 1995, we operated a mission in the diocese of Cruzeiro do Sul in Brazil. There Sister Andrea Kantner, Sister Rita Witt, and Sister Juanita Thomas provided for the spiritual and material needs of the people. 

Two sisters entered our community in Brazil, Sister Catarina da Silva and Sister Gracileia Alves. They both moved to the United States when the time came for us to withdraw from the mission.


We operated a boarding high school for girls in Nevada from 1940 until 1975. Many of our senior members discerned their vocation while attending this school.

After more than 90 years at our original motherhouse, we found that our circumstances had changed enough to warrant a move. In 1982, we purchased the former police academy in Independence, Missouri and renovated it to be our new mother house.

We continued to work in education, serving parish schools all over the diocese. We also renovated some of the buildings on the property to serve as retreat accommodations. We look forward in joy to see what God has planned for us next

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