JOLIET – One by one, 120 members of the century-and-a-half-year-old Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate filled the Cathedral of St. Raymond’s last remaining empty pews Sunday.
Sunday afternoon’s Mass was celebrated to commemorate the Joliet-based order’s 150th anniversary – and its lasting legacy within the city of Joliet, the church and the rest of the world.
“[These are women] who get up every day and recognize that their life is for Christ, that they live for the kingdom of God,” Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon’s voice echoed through the expansive cathedral. “They faithfully responded to God’s calling.”
The order was founded Aug. 2, 1865 – when the city of Joliet was only 11 years old.
Over the last century-and-a-half, the Joliet-based order held influence over the creation of much of Joliet’s institutions, having founded the University of St. Francis, the Guardian Angel Home, Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home, the Franciscan Learning Center and St. Francis Academy, which later merged to become Joliet Catholic Academy.