In the thirteenth century, Francis of Assisi answered a call from God to leave all and follow the gospel way of life. He became a prophet to the people of his time who, because of their greed for power and money, were constantly engaged in war and fighting. His literal living of the gospel transformed the society in which he lived and his simple and joyful life brought the peace and joy of Jesus to all.
In the mid-nineteenth century during the Oxford Movement, Elizabeth Hayes left her life as a sister in the Anglican Church of England and became a Catholic. Like Francis she answered her special call to follow Jesus more closely. Through her life of prayer and reflection as a Catholic sister, Elizabeth came to know and trust the Spirit of God within her. This complete trust in God’s Spirit led her to establish the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1873, in Belle Prairie Minnesota, U.S.A. In addition to her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, she made a fourth vow to dedicate her life to the missions. She was ready to leave home and country to reach out to all people wherever she saw a real need.
“I offer my life for the missions…Today I felt inspired to give myself in life or death, to give all, to keep nothing for myself, to throw myself into God’s Providence.”
“Accept me, O Lord, and all that I am and have, for the furtherance of this foundation.” (Elizabeth Hayes Diary)
Today we, Missionary Franciscan Sisters, continue to live the spirit of St. Francis and of Elizabeth Hayes as messengers of peace to God’s people living together in union with God and one another.