Mother M. Anastasia Bischler, O.S.F.

Community Register Number: 001
Deceased Member Number: 115
Legal Name: Franziska Bischler
Birth Date: 1834 – January 19
Birth Place: Berhaupton, Gernany       
Parents: Father: Peter Bischler
Birth Place:
  Mother: Maria Anna Harter
Birth Place: Germany
Entrance Date: 1867 – February 12
Ochsen Gasthaus, Seelbach, Germany
Reception Date: 1869 – February [no date documented]
First Vows: 1869 – February [no date documented]  
Final Vows: 1885 – March 19  
Laundry Number: 16  
Death Date: 1917 – November 21  
Cause of Death: Pneumonia and other complications  
Interment: St. John Cemetery, Joliet, Illinois
Section C, Row 2, Grave 9
Jubilee: Golden Jubilee – 1916  


Ministry Assignments




Ministry Position

Date Began

Date Ended

Ochsen Gasthaus & Trettenhof, Seelbach, Germany




Trettenhoff, Seelbach, Germany

Various responsibilities


1876, May 17

Motherhouse,Avilla, Indiana

Leadership[non elected]

1876 - May 17

1883 -January 26

Motherhouse, Joliet, Illinois

Leadership [non elected]

1883 - January 26

1892 - March 19

Motherhouse, Joliet, Illinois

Leadership [elected]

1892 - March 19

1908 - July 16

Motherhouse, Joliet, Illinois


1908 - July 16

1917 - November 21┼


Franziska Bischler was born in Berhaupton, Germany on January 19, 1834.  Her family later moved to Wengerbach, and it was from there, on February 12, 1867, that Franziska, at the age of thirty-three, joined a small group of tertiaries who were then living on the second floor of the Ochsen Gasthaus, a part of Seelbach.  Franziska was given the name of Anastasia.  In February of 1869, she made her first profession.

It is recorded in the early American Chronicles that “she decided to dedicate her life to God in the service of humanity.  She was a pious, industrious young lady, possessing a high degree of intelligence, tact, courage, sound judgment and foresight.”

1916 Golden Jubilee

Even though the young community lived a semi-restricted life so as not to arouse government suspicions, and Edict was issued to the community at Trettenhof on February 23, 1876 to either disband or leave Germany.  What seemed to be death to their dreams and vision was actually growth and new life.

On May 17, 1876, Sister Anastasia, at the age of forty-two, ventured forth from her homeland along with Sisters Brigitta Herr, Barbara Kastner, and Zitta Beck to the mission land of America.  They arrived in New York on May 31st.  The Sisters carried within their minds and hearts the vision of Father Wilhelm Berger to be “sisters of mercy, poor and joyous.” 
In the poverty of their “new home” they were rich in love, service and sense of mission.

Sister Anastasia directed the community in America without any elected assistants for 16 years, from 1876 to 1892.  During her first six months in America:

  • The Thomas Storey farm was purchased in Avilla, Indiana and became the “first Motherhouse” in America
  • A little chapel was erected adjacent to the Motherhouse and was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on November 19, 1876.
  • The Motherhouse was moved to Joliet, Illinois on January 26, 1883
  • Mother Anastasia was one of the  twenty-one Sisters in March of 1885 who made their Perpetual  Vows. [The Profession of Final Vows was one of the first steps to be recognized by the Church in order to become a congregation.]
  • Through the assistance of the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province, An Association of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart was formed on August 27th and on August 28, 1885 was incorporated in the State of Illinois.

On March 19, 1892, during the First General Chapter, Sister M. Anastasia was elected the first Superior General at the age of fifty-eight.  She retained that office for a total of four terms.  During these sixteen years of elected administration, the first Constitution was approved by Rome and the Community received the Decree of Aggregation into the Franciscan Order.

Some of the Sisters who knew Mother Anastasia remembered her as small in stature.  Her principal characteristic was that of simplicity.

Death came to her on the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Her last weeks on earth are described briefly in the obituary book as follows:
“She was an inspiration to all the members of the community and conscientiously lived the
common life ….Three weeks before her death she got pneumonia and other complications.  Mother suffered patiently and was well prepared when death came at 11:15 a.m. on November 21, 1917.  Funeral services were held at St. Joseph Hospital Chapel in Joliet on November 23.  Burial was in St. John’s Cemetery.”

Mother M. Anastasia led the community in America for thirty-two years.  These beginning years were specially difficult and challenging.  We know that she is watching over us now as we strive to translate and keep alive her spirit and vision as we further God’s Kingdom today. 

Known siblings:   brothers            Peter Bischler
                                                     George Bischler
                             sisters              Sister M. Pia Bischler  [Theresia Bischler]  CR # 25, DM #  140

Besides establishing the First Motherhouse in the United States in Avilla, Indiana in June 1876 and relocating it to Joliet, Illinois on January 26, 1883, the following missions were opened:


Sacred Heart Home, Avilla, Indiana
St. Mary School, Avilla, Indiana
St. Joseph School, Hessen Cassel, Indiana
St. Joseph School, Dyer, Indiana
Immaculate Conception School, Ege, Indiana
St. Elizabeth Hospital, Danville, Illinois
St. Joseph School, Danville, Illinois
St. Joseph Hospital, Joliet, Illinois
St. Joseph School, Peru, Illinois
St. Michael School, Schererville, Indiana
St. Anthony School, Klassville, Indiana
St. Peter & Paul School, Troy Grove, Illinois
St. Mary Hospital, LaSalle, Illinois
Sacred Heart School, Springfield, Illinois
St. Joseph Indian Normal School, Rensselear, Indiana
St. Joseph Hospital, San Francisco, California
St. Francis Hospital, Freeport, Illinois
St. Joseph School, Lockport, Illinois
St. Francis School, Attica, Indiana
St. Vincent Orphanage, Freeport, Illinois
St. Anthony Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
St. Charles Hospital, Aurora, Illinois
Sacred Heart Hospital, Garrett, Indiana
St. Joseph Hospital, Elgin, Illinois





1916 First Jubilee Celebration
Motherhouse of the
Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart,
Joliet, Illinois


left to right:

Sister M. Brigitta Herr
Sister M. Franciska Spraul
Mother M. Anastasia Bischler
Sister M. Coletta Himmeslbach


Mother Anastasia’s Gravesite

◄The first grave marker at St. John
Joliet , Illinois

The new gravesite marker was dedicated by the Sisters on June 18, 1989 during a  special Evening Prayer Service