Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
The Polish Province (formerly Silesian Province) existed unofficially since 1891. Formal approval occurred during the First General Chapter of the Congregation in Münster in 1903. However, sisters’ life and work on Silesian soil had started a long time before - in 1848. It was the time when Silesia was plagued by a huge epidemic of putrid fever caused by famine and cholera. Elisabeth Schlüter, Paula Bötticher and Klara Hüsing were among the first sisters of our Congregation who volunteered to come to Silesia in order to nurse the sick. On 11th March 1848, they began nursing work in Studzionka. When the epidemic ended, they took care of 82 orphaned children in Mikołów. On 7th May 1849, they started to work in an orphanage in Opole, where sixteen children and four young girls were under their care. Later, nursing work was taken up there, too. At the end of 1849, when epidemics of cholera and typhoid broke out in Opole, the sisters undertook nursing work in the newly founded hospital of St. Wojciech (Adalbert). The sisters’ work testimony in the hospital and beyond was an encouragement for Silesian girls to take up religious life. Consequently, Franciscans were able to cover with their activity also other areas of Upper and Lower Silesia and also cross the border into Bohemia (now Czechia). Beside typical nursing work and helping the poor, they ran and staffed nursery schools as well as day-care facilities for children aged 3 months to 3 years. They founded sewing and cookery schools for girls.
During World Wars I and II, some of the sisters were engaged in nursing care of injured soldiers in military hospitals. Other sisters continued to look after poor and infirm people, even at the cost of their lives. We would like to mention here especially Sister Herais Anna Sonsalla, who was burnt alive with her wards by Russian soldiers.
The years after the wars abounded in laws encroaching on the life and workings of the convents: German sisters, who had not obtained Polish citizenship, had to leave Silesia; sisters working in hospitals were dismissed and were deprived of accommodation on hospital premises. Instead, they were told to look after the disabled, who no one else was interested in. The Province had impeded contact with the General Motherhouse, and running a common German - Silesian novitiate became impossible. So, on 21st August 1948, a Polish novitiate was founded in Ołdrzychowice Klodzkie thanks to the efforts of Sr. Ludwiga Brenninkmeyer.
Our Apostolic ministries encompass direct patient care, nursing homes, homes for the disabled, and pastoral care. A modern welfare and health-care facility for senior citizens was opened in Opole Szczepanowice in 2005. Our latest units are located in Gliwice - a hospice - and in Kamień Śląski - a tourist and rehabilitation facility. Sisters also continue to serve the poor: a lot of people knock at our doors asking for something to eat or for medicine. Children often come to ask for food. Unfortunately, poverty is caused often by a decline in moral standards. A 'Common Room' was set up in the Provincial House here in Ołdrzychowice for children from poor and pathological families where they can do their homework and spend their free time.
You will find more information on the website of the Polish Province.