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Franciscan Sisters of Chicago Historical Timeline

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(1860) Birth- Josephine Dudzik (later Sister Mary Theresa) was born on August 30, 1860 to John and Agnes Dudzik in the village of Plocicz in the Pomeranian region of western Poland. She was baptized “Josephine” at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Kamien Krajenski, Poland.

(1881) Immigration to America - Josephine and her family emigrated to Chicago and moved to the West Town neighborhood. The Dudzik family joined St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, which is the largest Catholic parish in the United States at that time. Fourteen Masses are offered each Sunday.

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The Dudzik Family - Josephine is standing on the right.

(1886) Third Order of St. Francis - The Third Order of St. Francis for young women was established at St. Stanislus Kostka Parish. Third Orders are religious groups that help people deepen their lives spiritually and feel closer with God through union with a religious order.  Josephine Dudzik and Rosalie Wysinski were among the first members accepted.


Josephine Dudzik


An early illustration of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish
as it looked during the 1880's

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church
as it looks today.

Josephine Dudzik's first home.


(1889) The Beginning of the Ministry - - After the death of her father in 1889, Josephine and her mother lived alone. The United States was in the middle of an economic downturn and Josephine observed all the poverty around her and took heart to it. It was at this time she began taking needy and abandoned people into her home.

(Early 1890's) Second Home - Josephine soon realized that she would need more roomand help from others to achieve her goals of ministering to poor people. Later in 1896, after Josephine started the  new congregation, she, her mother and her fellow Sisters took up residence in a second home next to  St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish. This building is still standing and is now a private residence.  (Left) Josephine Dudzik's second home

 (Early 1890's) St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish - St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish was staffed by the Congregation of the Resurrection whose order was founded in Poland. Rev. Vincent Michael Barzynski, CR, (Founder of the Resurrectionist Missions in Chicago), was Josephine Dudzik's spiritual director. Josephine approached him for consent to care for the needy in a home to be built, where help would be given by other committed women from the parish. He would not give his approval unless the women agreed to take on the rule of a religious congregation. Therefore they were to take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and the wearing of a religious habit. The sisters copied the habit of the School Sisters of Notre Dame that were staffed at the parish then. With the guidance of Father Barzynski, they began meeting and planning their congregation.


 Rev. Vincent Michael Barzynski, CR.

 (1894) A New Congregation - Josephine invited members of the Third Order of St. Francis to join her in a life of prayer and service to the poor, aged, and disabled. She established a new congregation called the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda. At the time, the Congregation of the Resurrection were promoting the Beatification of Blessed Kunegunda (also known as Saint Kinga of Poland). Thus, Fr. Barzynski encouraged Josephine to take that name for her new Order. The new congregation began on December 8, 1894. At the 1970 Chapter Meeting of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, recognizing their heritage in the city of Chicago, the Sisters voted to change their name from the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda to the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago are the first religious congregation of women founded in the city of Chicago. (In photo) Saint Kinga of Poland (also known as Kunegunda), was canonized in 1999.


St. Kunegunda

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(1898) - St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled - The Sisters opened St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled (the first and oldest nursing home in Chicago) and built their first motherhouse on the same site. Starting with a single building the Sisters later expanded, adding the two connecting sides on the right and left. These buildings not only housed the elderly that lived with the Sisters, but also served as the novitiate for new incoming Sisters. They were also used as sewing and vestment workshops, as the Sisters did garment work to raise funds to support themselves and their ministries. Other ways the Sisters raised funds in those years include growing flowers for cemetery bouquets, cleaning rectories and begging when it was necessary. St. Joseph Home continues to serve the elderly today. In 2006, a replacement community was built and named St. Joseph Village of Chicago. Pictures below show the original St. Joseph Home, Sisters with residents from that era, and the St. Joseph Village today.

(1899) St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum - The Sisters opened St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum in Chicago right next door to St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled. From 1899 through 1906, the sisters cared for more than 500 children at this orphanage.

(1900) First Profession of Vows - The four pioneer Sisters made their first profession of vows on June 3, 1900. Membership in the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago steadily increased during this time. (Below left to right):  Sister M. Anna Wysinski, Sister M. Angeline Topolinski, Sister M. Agnes Dzik, Sister M. Theresa Dudzik.

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St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum


(1901 - 1904) Ministering in Education and Childcare - In 1901, the Sisters began to minister in education as they provide Sisters to teach at SS. Peter and Paul in Spring Valley, Illinois and at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr in Chicago (the Sisters would teach there until 1992). There was a great need for teachers in various communities because of the large number of immigrants coming to America who were looking for a place to learn, practice their faith and keep their culture and language alive. Over the years, the Sisters taught in 44 grammar schools and 2 high schools.  Later in 1904, the Sisters would open St. Elizabeth Day Nursery in Chicago.  They would operate this establishment until 1915 and again from 1920 to 1959. 


St. Elizabeth's Nursery 

(1910) Change in Leadership - In the early days of the congregation, Sister M. Theresa Dudzik was appointed Superior by Father Barzynski and the Resurrectionists. When Sister M. Theresa began collecting funds to build a new home, some in the parish spread malicious rumors that she was using the funds for herself and for her family. Fr. Barzynski suggested that Sister M. Theresa remove herself from leadership to avoid the scandal. In her humility and obedience to Fr. Barzynski, she stepped down. Thus in 1910, Mother Mary Anna (Rosalie) Wysinski (who was also one of the pioneer Sisters) was elected General Superior of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago in the First General Chapter. In the years after the election, Sister M. Theresa worked in the garden, sewed habits for new sisters and performed other humble tasks. Eventually, new sisters did not even recognize her as the foundress. In 1940, during the Sixth General Chapter, historical records were reviewed and Sisters who served during her time were allowed to review the material and Sister M. Theresa was recognized as the foundress. She was then given the honorary title of Mother.


Sister M. Theresa Dudzik  

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Mother Mary Anna Wysinski.


(1917) Ministry Extension in Education and Guardian Angel Day Nursery -  The Sisters extended their ministry to staff schools across Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas.  Later in 191897, The Sisters ministered at Guardian Angel Day Nursery and Home for Working Girls in the "back of the yards" (the famous Chicago stockyards). In 1952, the facility would become the legal property of the Sisters who would continue to run it until 1991.


 (1918) Death - Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik died in 1918. She was buried at St. Adalbert Cemetery in Niles, Illinois where eventually all of the Sisters who passed were buried. In 1972, Mother Theresa's body as moved from St. Adalbert back to the Mother House. There is a headstone to mark her death in the cemetery, but she is currently interred in the sarcophagus in the chapel at Our Lady of Victory Convent in Lemont.


(1926) The Walker Estate - The Sisters purchased the Walker estate in Lemont, Illinois, which served as the congregation's novitiate for 37 years. When Sisters joined the congregation, they would stay here, and this area would serve as a religious retreat.


(1936) Our Lady of Victory Convent opened as a home for retired and infirm Sisters in Lemont, Illinois. Later when the new convent was built, this building was turned into Mother Theresa Home, a senior living community.

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(1939) St. Anthony Home - St. Anthony Home for the Aged opened in Crown Point, Indiana in 1939. This community started as a farm house that served as a home for the elderly and eventually grew into a large senior retirement community in Northwest Indiana. Later the community was expanded and named St. Anthony Village.  St. Anthony Village remained part of Franciscan Ministries until 2019. 

The original St. Anthony Home was a farm house in Crown Point, Indiana.

(1940) Sisters in Boys Town - The Sisters served with the famous and celebrated priest, Father Edward Flanagan at Boys Town, Nebraska. The Sisters served in various positions there from housekeeping to office work and teaching religion. When the sisters officially left there in 1976, the Dowd Memorial Chapel Bulletin (the chapel newsletter in Boys Town) wrote that the Sisters were the 'Heart and Soul of the Boys Town Community.'


Father Flanagan stands with a group of Franciscan Sisters of Chicago in a Christmas photo in the early 1940's.

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(1947) Expansion into Nursing and Healthcare - The Sisters extended their ministry into acute care hospitals in both South Dakota and Nebraska including a nursing school in Huron, South Dakota in connection with St. John Hospital in the 1940's. Over the years, many Sisters would work in various roles in hospitals, nursing, and healthcare institutions.

The Sisters stand in front of a horse hitch. Notice they are
wearing all white nursing habits.


(1949) Madonna High School - The Sisters opened Madonna High School in Chicago in the old motherhouse in 1949. Many Sisters taught here and inspired thousands of young women over the years. Madonna High School stayed open until 2001.

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The old Madonna High School in Chicago

The new Madonna High School in Chicago stayed open until 2001.


(1953) Mount Alverna Rest Home - Mount Alverna Rest Home (Later rebuilt and expanded and renamed Mount Alverna Village) was opened in Parma, Ohio in 1953. The Sisters continue to serve there today. 


A new Our Lady of Victory Convent was built in 1963 on the other side of The Grotto. The Grotto is still on the grounds where people may pray the Stations of the Cross and spend time in spiritual reflection.

(1963) The Cause of Sainthood - The cause for the Beatification of Mother Mary Theresa Dudzikof beatification was formally opened. Rev. Henry Malak was appointed Postulator by Cardinal Albert Meyer. A Postulator is one who helps promote the cause of beatification before the Congregation of Rites and other religious tribunals. Father Malak would contribute an enormous amount of work to the cause including publishing Mother M. Theresa's manuscripts with translations provided by Sister M. Hugoline Czaplinski.

(1963-64) Move to Lemont -The motherhouse was moved from Chicago to Lemont, Illinois in 1963 and a new Our Lady of Victory Convent was built. The old convent was renovated and turned into a senior living community and named Mother Theresa Home. This motherhouse stayed in use until 2002 when a new convent was built on the grounds.

(1972) Exhumation - Rev. Michael Machejek was appointed postulator in Rome to pursue the cause of sainthood for Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik. He advised the Sisters that Mother Mary Theresa's body should be exhumed. Thus, on October 13, 1972, her body was exhumed at St. Adalbert's Cemetery and later re-interred in a sarcophagus in the motherhouse chapel. There was a special Mass held and visitors were allowed to pray near her casket


(1974) St. Anthony Medical Center - The Sisters opened St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown Point, Indiana, near St. Anthony Home in 1974. Many Sisters worked here in various positions in healthcare, administration, and management. The Sisters ran this facility until 1999. Eventually it was sold to the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration of Mishawaka, Indiana.


(1979) Positio Super Scriptis -  John Cardinal Cody officially opened the Cognitive Process for the Cause of Beatification. Testimonies were given from 1970-1981 on Mother Mary Theresa's life and her heroic virtue. This material was eventually published in Positio Super Scriptis by the Sacred Congregation for the cause of Saints in Rome in 1982. This document contained all the interviews and public witnesses as well as Mother Mary Theresa's own writing. 

(1982) Servant of God - Mother Mary Theres was declared a Servant of God in 1982, the first step in the beatification process. A person who is declared a Servant of God is a person whose works are being investigated in consideration for official recognition by the Pope and the Catholic Church as a saint in Heaven.

(In photo) A statue of Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik was unveiled during St. Stanislaus Kostka Church's 150th anniversary in 2017.


Members of Mother Mary Theresa's extended family stood in the front row during the special Mass held in 1972.


(1988) Franciscan Ministries - The Sisters created the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago Service Corporation (later renamed Franciscan Ministries). The corporation was established to help support, manage and operate all facilities sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago and assist them in extending their charitable mission in health care, social services, pastoral care, and education. Originally located in Homewood, IL, Franciscan Ministries' headquarters offically moved into a new building across from Our Lady of Victory Convent in Lemont, IL in 2015.

 (1989) Franciscan Village - Franciscan Village, a senior living community, was opened in Lemont, IL in 1989 and Mother Theresa Home is incorporated into the community.

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Sr. M. Alacoque Czartoryski visited Poland often to teach and minister to the people there.

(1991) International Ministries - The Sisters ministered to people outside of the United States. Beginning in 1991, Sr. M. Alacoque Czartoryski went to Plocicz, Poland (Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik’s birth place) to not only teach English to children and parents, but also to spread knowledge about the life of Mother Mary Theresa. She was also instrumental in persuading the Bishop and the villagers in Plocicz to build a church and successfully raised funds for construction. The church is still in use today. Also in 1991, Sister Theresa Obremski went to Mexico to minister to the people there. She resided with the Presentation Sisters where she taught catechism, visited the sick, and led monthly retreats with the seminarians for five years.

(1992) Sisters in Higher Education - The Sisters ministered and taught in universities and colleges starting in 1992. Sister Lois Marie Rossi taught nursing at Wilbur Wright Junior College in Chicago. Sister Doloria Kosiek taught Literacy at Triton Community College in Chicago and Sister Jeanne Marie Toriskie was a professor in the School of Education at St. Xavier University in Chicago. Sister Diane Marie Collins also was the Director of Liturgy and Music at the St. John Paul II Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

(1992) Theresa Dudzik Innovation Grant - The Sisters established the Teresa Dudzik Service Award in 1992. This award encourages new innovation and recognizes outstanding achievement by the Sisters' sponsored communities, which in turn increases the quality of programs and services for the elderly. Participating communities document and share their programs with the other communities in the spirit of collaboration. Later renamed the Theresa Dudzik Innovation Grant in 2016, this monetary grant award is awarded yearly.

(1994) Venerable Mother Mary Theresa - Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1994. Being declared Venerable is the second step in the cause for beatification. This means that the Catholic Church has determined that Mother Mary Theresa lived a life of heroic virtue and that she earnestly sought to improve her spirituality consistently throughout her life.


This statue of Mother Mary Theresa holding "Legless Joey" currently stands in the Grotto on the grounds of Our Lady of Victory Convent. 

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(1995) St. Jude House - In 1995, the Sisters opened St. Jude House, a family violence prevention center in Crown Point, Indiana. St. Jude House provides services to victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault and their dependent children. The shelter currently serves over 650 women and children a year and provides a full component of services including housing, food, toiletries, counseling for adults and children, case management, legal advocacy, liaison with Child Protective Services and other social service agencies, and educational programs concerning abuse.

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(1997) Addolorata Villa - Addolorata Villa, a senior living community in Wheeling, Illinois, was purchased from the Servite Sisters and expanded in 1997.

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(1998) Marian Village -  Another senior living community, Marian Village, in Homer Glen, Illinois, was opened in 1998.

(2001) Madonna Foundation - With Madonna High School in Chicago closing, the Sisters established the Madonna Foundation, a public charity that increases access for young women to attend Catholic high schools in the Chicago area. The Foundation is the only one of its kind in the region focusing exclusively on serving young women with scholarship support and programming. Since 2001, the Madonna Foundation has awarded over 1,200 young women scholarships totaling over $2.7 million. 


(2002) New Our Lady of Victory Convent - In 2002, the Sisters opened the new Our Lady of Victory Convent in Lemont, Illinois. When the present convent was built, the casket containing the remains of Mother Theresa was moved from the former motherhouse to its new home in the sarcophagus in the new chapel. For a few short days, before its transfer, the casket was displayed and visitors could see and visit the casket and pray. 


Sisters stand with Mother Mary Theresa
Dudzik's casket in 2002.

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(2003) University Place - University Place, a senior living community, was opened in West Lafayette, Indiana. University Place has a special place in the history of the Fanciscan Sisters of Chicago. It is the first senior community that was developed by the Sisters in collaboration with a university, Purdue University of West Lafayette, Indiana, in 2003. 

(2006) Village of Victory Lakes -The Village at Victory Lakes, a senior living community in Lindenhurst, Illinois was acquired in 2006.

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(2011) Mother Theresa Dudzik Way - In 2011, the City of Chicago renamed a street after Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik. The southeast corner of Karlov and Belmont (West Belmont and North Karlov) is now Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik Way. 


(2018) Continued Growth - Franciscan Ministries acquired The Village at Mercy Creek in Normal, IL. This brings the total number of senior living communities to nine with two senior housing communities in both Crete, IL and Louisville, Kentucky.

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