Beginning SSM

beginnings_rev2Shortly after she had her vision of uniting the active life with the contemplative, a new pathway emerged. Father Francis Jordan asked Sister to collaborate with him in the establishment of the women’s branch of his new foundation whose goal was Christian education. Just like Abraham, by faith and obedience to God’s will, she left for Rome without knowing exactly what she was going to do. She said “yes” not knowing where this would lead her or how it would relate to the vision of the merging mountains.

On February 16, 1883, Sr. Petra arrived in Rome. The dwelling offered by Father Jordan was truly simple, an apartment with very few utensils for the kitchen, without beds or chairs, but with the advantage of being near the basilica of St. Peter. Great was her joy because also exteriorly she could express her love for poverty and for the Church.

Father Jordan

Father Jordan

She chose a new name: Sr. Mary Frances of the Cross. It was indicative of her mission and her experience.

For two years, Sr. M. Frances and Fr. Jordan sought to cooperate with each other in spite of difficulties and misunderstandings that arose. Each was being faithful but their charisms were very different. Separation became necessary if both communities were to flourish. In 1883 the ecclesiastical authorities separated the institute led by Sr. M. Frances from the one led by Fr. Jordan (Society of the Divine Savior, also known as Salvatorians).

On February 16, 1883, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother was thus formed, with Sr. M. Frances of the Cross as its foundress and first superior.

Early Sisters lived and worked with the poor

Early Sisters lived and worked with the poor

She became known as Mother Frances Streitel. The new community scrupulously followed the Franciscan Rule with special attention to poverty and caring and sharing with the poor. In order to provide a living, the sisters devoted themselves to the most menial works, such as tending the sick in their homes and taking care of the sacristy at the church of Campsanto Teutonico in the Vatican.

The sisters lived as very poor people among the poor, while cherishing contemplation of Christ with Mary at the foot of the Cross. The Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours were their spiritual nourishment. They did all they could so that the people they met could see God through their smiles, their words of hope and their hugs.