Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale

It was to console the sick and the suffering that two sisters of St. Francis came from Buffalo to Pittsburgh in 1865. For 137 years that consolation would express itself in the ministry of healthcare in hospitals, outreach services, schools of nursing, and schools of allied health.

The Sisters of Saint Francis of Millvale trace their origins to Saint John Neumann, fourth Bishop of Philadelphia, who established a religious community following the rule of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi in 1855. A total of six communities followed from that foundation, today known as the Neumann-Bachmann Heritage Communities, in honor of Saint John Neumann and the Mother Foundress, Anna Bachmann, known as Mother Mary Francis.

Mother Mary Louis Bergem was elected the first superior of the Pittsburgh community in 1871, when Bishop Michael Domenec requested the separation of the Sisters from the Buffalo community. For six years prior to that election, the sisters had already been serving the sick in the Lawrenceville neighborhood, establishing their first hospital in a frame house on 37th street, with a capacity of 15 beds and then moving to 44th street to allow much needed expansion.

Sisters Front Row: Sisters Joseph, Clementine, Angela, and Alphonsa
Back Row: An Unknown Sister, Sister Dominica, Mother Baptist, Mother Agnes, and Sister Cecelia

For 137 years, the Sisters of Saint Francis of Millvale served at Saint Francis Hospital, providing healthcare and employment not only to the local community, but throughout Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. The sisters and their hospital pioneered treatment of mental health, addictions, cardiac diagnosis and care, heart surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, and physical medicine. As a teaching hospital with its own school of nursing, students from across the country were drawn to St. Francis for specialty training, including medical students who came to fulfill their internship and residency requirements.

The Sisters of Saint Francis established Saint Francis Hospital of New Castle in 1908 and a school of nursing there in 1919. Beginning in 1984, they expanded their health system to include a campus in Cranberry Township, Butler County which included a hospital, outpatient and same-day-surgery department, nursing home, heliport, and professional offices. In 1992, a hospital in the Uptown section of Pittsburgh became part of the St. Francis Health System.

In 2002, the Sisters of Saint Francis of Millvale withdrew from sponsorship of their healthcare facilities, but not from their commitment to console those most in need of care. They remain sponsors of Franciscan Health Wellness Ministries and the Spirit of Health mobile van. In addition, many sisters serve in healthcare and related ministries. In 2007, the Millvale Franciscans joined with three other of the Neumann-Bachmann congregations in New York, as the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities. This merger presents many other opportunities for service through the healthcare ministry.

For additional information on the Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale, please visit their homepage by clicking here.

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