Meet the Sisters
“We are mothers to [Christ] when we carry him in our hearts and souls by love with a pure and sincere conscience, and give him birth by doing good” – St. Francis of Assisi
For over 100 years our sisters have served the western regions of the United States. Relying on the Spirit who works in us, we respond to our call in prayer and service. Like many other religious communities of women, we originally worked in the areas of education and health care, founding schools and hospitals. The past five decades have seen our expansion into diversity of presence using the gifts God entrusted to each sister. In each sacred encounter with persons, institutions, and situations, we strive to be signs of hope in a struggling world.
Mary Ann Conley
Candida Gonzales Jimenez
Margaret Meg Keeler
Kathryn Ann Lehman
Mary Catherine Litell
Ilce Lopez Gomez
Maria Elena Martinez
Micaela Mendez Vazquez
Leticia Perez Hernandez
Mary Rita Reilly
Chapter of Mats
Sisters and Associates from across the country, including 3 Associates and 10 Sisters from St.
Francis Province, came together for 3 days in August 2022, on the anniversary of an historic
moment that occurred 102 years ago in Seneca Falls, a 20-minute drive from the Stella Niagara
convent outside of Buffalo, New York. It was in 1920, 102 years ago, that the ratification of the
19 th amendment occurred, allowing our grandmothers and great-grandmothers to cast their
votes for the first time.
The first Chapter of Mats dates back to the 13 th century beginnings of the Franciscan movement and to Francis of Assisi himself. At that time, the friars gathered in Assisi for the feast of Pentecost. Due to lack of space, they slept on straw mats—thus the name. Since that time, large intermittent gatherings of Franciscans are often referred to as Chapters of Mats.
Unlike most other conferences and meetings, a Chapter of Mats is coordinated on an occasional basis and is not designed for strategic planning, budgeting, subcommittee and liaison reports, or even education necessary to our mission and care for our community life.
Instead, the Chapter of Mats is designed for deeper personal connection, conversation, reflection, rest, prayer, and a host of other activities, including outdoor exploration, singing, dancing, and themed entertainment reflecting some of our cultural heritage. As our opening speaker announced, “This is Franciscan Summer Camp!”
One way we connected in conversation was through gently guided group reflection and story- telling revolving around questions like:
1. How has the story of me changed since the last time I asked that question?
2. What is my unique wisdom or way of doing things?
3. Who are we as a community in the United States and whose support do we receive?
4. How do we define our cosmic journey and what is the next chapter of our congregation’s cosmic story? What is blossoming?
To see the full story of our days in joyful, restorative communion, please click HERE.