Franciscan Sisters, TOR of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother
Ministry with the poor, campus ministry, nursing home ministry, prison ministry, spiritual direction, retreats, parish missions and talks
Get in Touch!
Sr. Miriam O’Callaghan, Vocations Coordinator - 740-544-6204
Our Lady of Sorrows Motherhouse - Toronto, Ohio
Santa Chiara Mission House - Steubenville, Ohio
St. Elizabeth Mission House - Tallahassee, Florida
Greccio Mission House - Gaming, Austria
Patron Saints/Famous Saints of the Community
St. Francis (First Order), St. Clare (Second Order), St. Louis IX and St. Elizabeth of Hungary (patrons of the Third Order), St. Angela of Foligno, St. Margaret of Cortona, St. Angeline of Marsciano (Third Order Franciscans)
The mission and charisms of the Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R., of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother proceed from deep gratitude for the goodness and love of God, which is poured out through Christ’s redemption on the cross. Our mission is to glorify God and make known His merciful love so that all may be reconciled and brought into communion with God. We proclaim the good news of salvation through the witness of our consecrated and communal life as Franciscan contemplative penitents committed to prayer and works of mercy.
Under the patronage of the Sorrowful Mother and with the Eucharist as the center of their daily life, the community lives out its mission of standing with Mary at the foot of the Cross, offering our lives with Christ as a holocaust of love for the salvation of souls.
Our life of prayer and intercession and our commitment to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy flow from our charisms of crucified love, mercy, poverty, and contemplation. Our contemplative-active rhythm of prayer, work, and ministry is lived out in three possible settings: monasteries, hermitages, and mission houses. While prayer is our primary ministry at every location from which we serve, we have four mission houses with various outreaches to the poor and the unevangelized, as well as ministries at our motherhouse and beyond.
In downtown Steubenville, we help provide for the needs of the materially and spiritually poor through a compassionate presence. At Franciscan University of Steubenville’s main campus and study abroad campus and at Florida State University, we evangelize through witness, spiritual direction and assistance in campus ministry. Sisters visit a nursing home and a prison and also travel to offer parish missions and retreats and speak at various conferences. The sisters offer the ministry of hospitality at Our Lady of Sorrows Motherhouse, where visitors are welcome for Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, devotional prayer, retreats and vocational discernment visits.
The Franciscan Sisters Third Order Regular of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother was established as a Public Association of the Faithful (in formation to become a religious institute) on August 15, 1988 by Bishop Albert Ottenweller in Steubenville, Ohio. The seven founding members included two Franciscan sisters and five lay women from the Secular Franciscan Order. Sr. Katherine Caldwell, TOR, is the founding sister who has remained with us.
With the help of Fr. Angelus Migliore, T.O.R., the women met together and realized their visions were similar—to renew the contemplative dimension of the life of the early Franciscans, from which flows the works of mercy. They all felt called to be with Mary at the foot of the cross to intercede for God’s people and to make known his merciful love. The Franciscan Sisters were influenced by the Church’s renewal at the time, a fruit of Vatican II, the pontificate of St. John Paul II, and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
In May 1988, the group began living and praying together in one of the dorms at Franciscan University to discern how the Lord was leading them. On August 1, the group moved to an empty convent. Once word spread, the small community began to grow quickly and moved to larger housing nearby.
In June 1994, through the intercession of St. Joseph, the sisters purchased their country motherhouse property in nearby Toronto. The sisters broke ground for Our Lady of Sorrows Formation House in 1995 and later completed Father of Mercy Chapel and Our Lady of Sorrows Professed House in 2010. Four hermitages were constructed on the motherhouse property and Wednesday mornings were set aside for prayer, silence and solitude. Four mission houses serving the poor and college students opened between 2001 and 2015. Now in its 32nd year, the community held its fifth General Chapter this summer and continues its founding with the grace of God and the contributions of each of its members.
Sisters participate in daily Mass, two daily hours of Eucharistic adoration, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and praise and worship and charismatic prayer. Other devotions include Marian Consecration, the Franciscan Crown, the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and the Stations of the Cross. Sisters have a weekly hermitage morning and monthly hermitage days for silence and solitude to foster greater intimacy with the Lord.
The community values and prioritizes our fraternal life by setting aside time for community meals, recreation and share group, and by celebrating our sisterhood together. When we take our religious names, we also choose a coinciding feast day, usually a feast of Our Lady or a saint. We celebrate each other's feast days by praying over our sister, making her a homemade card, and honoring her during her feast day meal.