franciscan ministries logo

Social Impact

“Very often, I felt drawn to a greater sacrifice for others. I was consistently occupied with the thought of how I could be of service to the needy and the poor.”

-Mother Mary Teresa Dudzik

Serving  others is at the core of Franciscan Ministries’ vision to improve the quality of life for the people we serve. It has always been part of our mission to have a positive effect on our residents, associates, the community around us and the world.

Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik – We are guided by her legacy

Those who help others, help the world.

Where it All Started – Venerable Mary Theresa Dudzik

Born Josephine Dudzik in Poland in 1860, Dudzik migrated to America with her family at 21 years of age and settled on the North-side of Chicago in 1881. She once stated, “Very often, I felt drawn to a greater sacrifice for others. I was constantly occupied with the thought of how I could be of service to the needy and the poor.” She came to their aid both spiritually and physically, even sheltering some of them in her own home. 

On December 8, 1894, the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda was formed, and then later changed their name to the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. Josephine took the religious name Sister Mary Theresa. And in the following years, the congregation grew as the Sisters expanded their services into childcare, eldercare and education.

It’s this legacy of caring for others that the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago continue to bring forward and we, serving as an extension of them at Franciscan Ministries, do the same with everything we do. We, at Franciscan, know that we are truly part of something that goes beyond us and has a larger reach beyond those we serve. This provides us with a reason to serve – and helps us impact the lives of so many people – whether it’s providing living options and healthcare to the senior population in our Franciscan Communities or providing shelter and a safe haven to victims of domestic abuse through our St. Jude House or helping young women fulfill their Catholic high school education dreams by helping to ready them for higher education through our Madonna Foundation. Everything we do gives us purpose.

And as a faith-based ministry, it’s this [purpose] that calls us to help impact the lives of many by continuing the work of our Foundress, Venerable Mary Theresa Dudzik. It was through her charism, wisdom, and unrelenting courage that she was able to build – against many obstacles  – the foundation for helping others in their most desperate of times. And we bring that charism, wisdom and courage forward.

Living Joyfully

Living Joyfully is centered around our associates and residents. We believe that Living Joyfully is fullest and deepest expression of our Mission to “Celebrate Life and Serve with Joy.” It’s this Mission coupled with Joy that guides our associates and our care for our residents. Our success is measured by our associates and residents’ wellbeing. We are always looking to achieve the highest level of growth for our associates, while ensuring the balance of services fits the needs of every resident. Learn more about the meaning of Living Joyfully and what it means for our residents and associates.

Madonna Foundation

The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago opened Madonna High School in 1949 in Chicago. For more than 50 years, Madonna High School kept this mission alive, at one time serving as many as 1,200 students. But after many years of educational service, the high school closed its doors due to declining enrollment and the economic pressures on private schools in the city of Chicago. In 2001 the Madonna Foundation was born, developing the Madonna’s Scholars Program to help carry on the legacy and mission of Madonna High School.

The Madonna Foundation’s mission is to educate young women from the Chicago area who face barriers, helping them transform their lives and launch bright futures by providing access to academic excellence at a female only Catholic high school.

St. Jude House

Providing shelter, care and strength

Opening in November of 1995, St. Jude House is a safe, emergency shelter providing services for victims of domestic violence and their dependent children. Continuing the compassionate care given by Mother Mary Theresa and the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, St. Jude House is committed to offering love and hope in a healing and caring environment to each person that seeks shelter and/or services regardless of creed, gender, race, sexual orientation or national origin. 

St. Jude House was the first shelter in the State of Indiana to publish its address in recognition of the fact that victims of domestic violence are more likely to access a shelter’s services if the shelter is visible. During its first two years in operation, St. Jude House operated primarily from community donations and funds donated by the Sisters. The shelter currently serves over 650 men, women and children a year and provides a full complement 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, mobile advocacy and educational programs. Learn more about St. Jude House and how you can help support this very important ministry.

The Gift of Care

Whenever it’s financially possible we, as a Ministry, have the opportunity to help our residents with financial needs through the kind donations of, donors,  residents, family members, estates or the generous support from local businesses. The Gift of Care program was developed to provide additional support to residents of Franciscan Communities who experience financial difficulties.

Helping Hands

The Helping Hands fund was developed to assist our associates that may be experiencing financial hardships due to an illness in the family, a natural disaster or dealing with a catastrophic incident or personal crisis. This program exists to provide confidential aid to associates who find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly in need due to a personal crisis, emergency, or need. This aid is granted for care and support of a one-time emergency and each case is held in the strictest of confidence will be reviewed considering applicant’s need and amount in the associate fund.  

The Helping Hands fund has also developed a program to assist associates with the high cost of Child Care.   These programs help to support our associates while they provide care and support to our residents.

Mercy Project

Starting in 2017, associates from Franciscan Ministries and all of its sponsored communities, were asked raise funds through donations to help a needy family in Haiti. Because our associates’ hard work and generosity, Franciscan Ministries was able to build a modest home for the Rosie Compere Family residing in Holy Family Village in Pistere, Haiti. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were not able to proceed with the Next Mercy project until now! Developments are underway to start the next Mercy Project. Please stay tuned for more information on the next Mercy Project coming soon!

Community Service

On a monthly basis, our communities  take part in providing service,  donations and support to local residents, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and various organizations that support the surrounding community as well as areas of need around the world. No matter how small the gesture every little bit helps and is noticed in the eyes of God. 

Franciscan Ministries is also in the process of developing the Ministry’s plan for the Laudato Si Action Platform inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si” whose purpose is to “Concrete actions to protect our common home.”  

Franciscan Advisory Services

One of the areas of great passion for Franciscan Ministries is the expertise that we bring to the marketplace. With over 129 years of industry knowledge and expertise, our senior housing subject matter experts have disciplines in intentional design and planning, culinary, clinical care, marketing and branding and HR, finance, mission and operations with over 200 years of combined experience. 

Franciscan Advisory Services (FAS) is a division of Franciscan Ministries acting as our senior housing and post-acute care management consulting arm, offering third-party senior living management services. It was developed to extend our operational expertise in senior living services, care for seniors and post-acute services to other organizations. We’ve become a resource for national benchmarks and continue to be involved in leading senior industry associations and events throughout the year.