Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph


Called by God into the Fraternity of Francis, we live in Simplicity, Servanthood, and Joy, renewing the spirit of Mother Colette Hilbert, "In all things Charity."

Current News

 Leader of the Vietnamese Domincan Sisters Visit FSSJ

The Our Lady of Tra Kieu Statue (on the left) was presented by Sister Ngoc Nguyen, Assistant Superior General of the Dominican Sisters of Viet Nam in thanksgiving to Sister Marcia Ann Fiutko, FSSJ General Minister for the warm welcome and support that the student Sisters of her community receive from the FSSJ congregation.

Our Lady of Tra Kieu is a Marian apparition revered by Vietnamese Catholics.  Our Lady of Tra Kieu Festival takes place at the shrine on May 31.  The shrine holds historical significance, as Catholic residents credit a Marian apparition for their survival during a siege of the village by the Can Vurong movement, leading to the construction of the shrine.  If you click on the picture of the statue you can see the shrine at the bottom of the cloak of Mary.


The picture on the right shows the Sisters when they joined the FSSJ for Mass and a tour of St. Francis Park.  The Sisters in the picture are: left to right

     Sister Uyen Do – a student at Yale University

     Sister Ngoc Nguyen – Assistant Superior General of the Dominican Sisters

     Sister Thuy and Sister Sang – Students at Hilbert College

If you click on the picture of the Sisters you can see them close-up.

May Crowning at St. Francis Park

Sister Martha Marie Olszewski, FSSJ, Crowned the Blessed Mother.  Sister Martha celebrated her 60th Anniversary as a Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph.  Sister Angelis Lemka, FSSJ, who taught Sister Martha in Kindergarten, assisted her.

Nurses and Home Health Aides daily care for FSSJ.
The Sisters decorated the Nurses’ station and gave blessing as well as individual cards of gratitude for all they do for us.
We are so blessed!

 Earth Day at St. Francis Park


Educational games and display about recycling plastic at St. Francis Park


Occasionally, Vietnamese Sisters who are matriculating at Hilbert College and at some Buffalo colleges, grace us with a visit to St. Francis Park.

The Sisters joined FSSJ at the Mass.  Sister Marcia Ann, FSSJ General Minister, at the end of Mass, invited them to introduce themselves.  Then, the FSSJ Sisters offered them a Franciscan blessing.  A reception line formed in the foyer to the chapel so that each Sister could be welcomed by individual FSSJs.  From there, our guests joined us at dinner.


The names of the Sisters are (left to right)  Sr. Dung Nguyen, Sr. Nguyen Nhung, Sr. Loan Trang, Sr. Trang Vo, Sr. Thuy Tran,  Sr. Sang Trang.

Most of the Sisters studied English at other sites or colleges in the U.S. before coming to Western New York.  Then, they began studies for degrees that will prepare them for professional ministries in their native country.  Some Sisters explained that they will be educators or social workers.

We look forward to the next visit of our Vietnamese Sisters!


FSSJ Pray for the End of Human Trafficking

St. Josephine Bakhita was born around 1869 in Darfur (now western Sudan).  She was seized by slave traders. Over the course of twelve years (1877–1889) she was sold three more times and then she was finally given her freedom.  Josephine became a Canossian Sister and forgave her captors.


St. Josephine Bakhita is venerated as a modern African saint, and as a statement against the brutal history of slavery. St. Josephine Bakhita has been adopted as the patron saint of modern Sudan and human trafficking survivors.  She was canonized by St. Pope John Paul II. 

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph are committed to praying for the end of human trafficking.   We are grateful to Sr. Deborah Marie for sharing, on our prayer board for all the residents at St. Francis Park, the United Nations Blue Heart campaign to educate and help in the ending of slavery.  If you click on the picture with the blue heart you will more easily be able to read the information.   To learn more about ending human trafficking go to:


Timeline Document for 125 Years of Sharing Hearts and Hands

FSSJ- 125 Years -Timeline
Our Leadership Team 
Sr. Jean Cherry, Councilor, Sr. Marcia Ann Fiutko, General Minister,
Sr. Andrea Ciszewski, Councilor

FSSJ 2022 Chapter

General Chapter Direction Statement

In these transformative times of change, challenge and collaboration, we, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, embrace our call to Widen the Tent of our Hearts for the common good of God’s people and our common home, Mother Earth.

We willingly extend our hearts and hands to:
– Accept into our lives all persons as our sisters and brothers and to join efforts to bring an end to racism;
– Continue our efforts to minimize climate change and its effects on the life of our planet; and
– Collaborate with lay and religious partners to develop sustainable services and governance for our Congregation.
In the midst of our Holy Aging, we freely offer our gift of a Franciscan ministry of presence.


We began our Chapter with a day of retreat lead by Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF – – pictured on the left.  The picture on the right shows Sr. Alexine and Sr. Ann Marie sharing their Franciscan stories of faith and hope.

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph spent some of their second day in Chapter widening the tent of our hearts by listening to Dr. Deidre DeBose (left), Vice President of Mission and Equity at Hilbert College.  She shared her story of the blessings of faith, honesty, and courage as she faced racism in her life.

The Sisters shared their faith and support of Dr. DeBose by giving her a blessing as she continues her work at Hilbert.


A particularly pertinent quote Dr. DeBose shared with us was,
“Privilege is not about what you’ve gone through,
it is about what you haven’t gone through.”
Janaya Khan




This tent, created by Sr. Ann Lyons, FSSJ and Sr. Lynne Anne Schimminger, FSSJ, was in the Chapter room, reminding us all of our call to widen the tent of our hearts.

Sr. Lynne Anne Schimminger, FSSJ was asked to create a logo for our 2022 Chapter with the theme Widen the Tent of Our Hearts.  She drew a Bedouin tent which would ordinarily have a closed back side. However, the back of this tent is open. It beckons us to move out into the future where God is leading us.  You’ll notice that the landscape has mountains and hills and is somewhat hazy. Our destination will become more defined as we engage in prayer and contemplative dialogue during the coming year.

The tent flaps are flowing with the breath of the Spirit, allowing for flexibility; the tent pegs are strong and durable to ground us in our Franciscan charism and the Gospel.

The striped colors of the tent signify our diversity since each Sister will be called to widen the tent of her heart in a unique, personal way. As we pray with this logo we are invited to sit awhile in the tent, enjoying the warmth and hospitality of God’s presence—and, then, to open wide the tent of our hearts bringing Christ to the world beyond ourselves.

Feel free to join with us in praying our Chapter Prayer below.

Prayer for Widening the Tents of Our Hearts

Gracious God, we are challenged by the prophet Isaiah to enlarge the tent of our hearts, open wide our tent curtains, lengthen our ropes and strengthen our stakes.

May we not hold back, but stretch our hearts to the limit, embracing all persons as our sisters and brothers.

May our tent stakes go deep to keep us rooted in Christ and
our Franciscan charism.

May we spread our tent flaps unsparingly, clearing out our biases and making room for more compassion.

May we keep our tent cloths supple enough to allow for flexibility, risk, and abundant blessing.

God of Extravagant Love, may we see your beauty reflected in all the faces of humanity that You so love.  Amen

FSSJ Celebrate 125th  Anniversary at
St. Francis Parish, Athol Springs, NY

Ambiance honoring Mother Colette Hilbert, our Foundress

Providing inspirational music and song:
Sr. Lucille Ann, Cantor
Sr. Andrea, Organist
Sr. Deborah Marie, Liturgy Coordinator

Fr. Ross Syracuse, Pastor at St. Francis Parish, gives the welcome to all at our celebration

Franciscan Friars who celebrated with us:
Fr. Ross Syracuse, OFM Conv., Fr. Michael Zielke, OFM Conv., Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv.,  Fr. Charles, OFM Conventual, Fr. Mark David Skura, OFM Conv.

Sisters singing their Charism song, Called by God.  This song was composed by Sister Deborah Marie Ciolek, FSSJ

Sister Marcia Fiutko, FSSJ, General Minister of our Order, invites the Sisters to renew their vows of Poverty, Celibate Chastity and Obedience.

Group picture!

Sister Marvina and friends!

Those who taught or ministered at St. Columba:
Sr. Deborah, Sr. Lucille Ann, Carmen Rivera (FSSJ Associate), Sr. Karen, Susan Odle.

Sr. Andrea and the Franciscan Friars

Sr. Ann Lyons and Sr. Lynne Anne Schimminger with friends

Friends from Catholic Health
Joyce Markiewicz, Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer at Catholic Health, and Jill Hirczak, Life Enhancement Director at St. Francis Park.

Dr. Brophy, President of Hilbert College, founded by the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, presents a citation from the Hilbert Board of Trustees, staff and students in honor of  our 125th Anniversary.

Sr. Jean Marie Cherry with friends from the Franciscan Sisters of Allegheny and the Sisters of Social Service in Buffalo.

The Sisters started the day with the Sisters in Leadership pinning on corsages on each Sister.  Sister Marcia Ann, General Minister,  pins a corsage on Sister Angelis.  The corsages were made by Sr. Benedicta.

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph are grateful for all those who have helped us to remain safe and healthy during the pandemic. In gratitude for all our health care staff has done for us Sister Deborah Marie Ciolek ordered a jigsaw puzzle with a picture of Jesus blessing a health care worker. After the Sisters put the puzzle together, Sister Lynne Anne Schimminger prepared it to be hung in the Care Community area of St. Francis Park as a gift to all the health care givers, nurses, Home Health Aides and Resident Care Aides.

Immaculata Academy has New Life as The Oaks at South Park

For 88 years the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph served God’s people by educating young women at Immaculata Academy in Hamburg, NY.  They are grateful that the new enterprise, The Oaks at South Park,  pays homage to the history of the property while offering beautiful, private “carriage house style” luxury apartments that will provide safe housing.  For more information on The Oaks go to Home

The picture on the right is the cornerstone of Immaculata Academy with some of the articles found in it.

Hilbert College announced that a new baseball field and a new softball field has been named the FSSJ Field Complex, in recognition of the College’s founding congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph (FSSJ).  The FSSJ Field Complex, which is slated to be completed for the Spring 2021 season, recognizes the generosity of the Sisters, whose sale of the property adjacent to Hilbert’s campus specified that the fields would be made available for Hilbert’s exclusive use.


Each Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph is praying together or privately for our world at this time.  Some pray in Chapel, some in parlors.  Where or however we pray, God is with us.  Know that you and your families have us holding you tenderly in our hearts.

As St. Francis taught us by example, we not only pray when we pray together but our hope and our call is to “become a prayer.” It is something all followers of Jesus are called to do.

FSSJ News - St. Francis Park

Becoming St. Francis Park

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph have always been open to the Spirit of God and what God is asking of us at each time in history. In the 2000s the Sisters became more aware that we were being called to create a legacy of a new home – one that would be constructed in the Spirit of St. Francis’s love of creation and one that would allow us to open our home, our spirituality and our hope for the future to others. In 2010 the new Immaculate Conception Convent was built (LEED Platinum) at 5229 South Park Avenue, Hamburg, NY.

In 2018, Catholic Health purchased Immaculate Conception Convent and helped the Sisters’ vision become a reality with the opening of St. Francis Park, an independent living facility for seniors from all walks of life. We invite you to spend some time on this site to learn more.

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5229 South Park Avenue, Hamburg, NY 14075
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