In 1851, Anna’s husband died and it all came crashing down. She had to transition from beloved wife and mother to widow and single parent. Anna lived through a dark night yet came into the light by experiencing the flame of God’s abiding love. To support herself and her children she operated a small shop and hostel for immigrant women.
In 1855, she responded to a call to serve God and founded a religious congregation known as the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. As the congregation of women grew, they served the people of God wherever a need existed. Initially, in addition to hosting immigrant women, the sisters nursed the sick poor in patients’ homes or, when necessary, in their convents. During that same time, they responded to the need for teachers, opened the first hospital in Philadelphia and staffed an orphanage.
Anna was a woman who knew both great love and great sorrow. She was well acquainted with love and loss, serenity and discord, yet, despite the challenges, she set an example of selfless love.
Today, sisters minister in at least twenty-four states, including Alaska. Internationally, sisters have served the people of God in Puerto Rico, Africa, Central America and Ireland. They serve in a variety of ministries in a multitude of settings including education, spiritual and pastoral care; healthcare; elderly services; parish ministry; ministry with immigrants, refugees and those who are homeless, poor and underserved. They are also present in counseling, advocacy, and leadership in national religious organizations.
Anna Bachman, also known as Mother Francis, left us with this challenging message: “As long as God does not stop giving to us, we shall not stop giving to the poor”.