Hospital History | St. Francis - Ascension Wisconsin

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Our History

Compassionate and comprehensive health care has been the cornerstone of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - St. Francis since our founding by the Felician Sisters in 1956. But the story of the hospital really begins more than 130 years ago in Warsaw, Poland.

The streets of Warsaw were cold and dirty in 1850, and were certainly not a safe place for the countless orphans who made the dark doorways and alleys their home. Their thin bodies and ragged clothes broke the heart of Sophia Truszkowska (who later became known as Blessed Mother Angela). Setting an example for the numerous women who would later follow her initiative, she did more than just feel compassion for the orphans. She founded an order of dedicated women called the Felician Sisters to assist the orphans and other suffering people in Warsaw.

Twenty years later, in 1874, five Felician Sisters established a motherhouse in Polonia, Wisconsin. Their mission was identical to that of their sisters in Poland – to ease suffering, bring love and caring to those who need it, and to assist the poor and sick.

Over 50 Years of Caring for South Side Families

In 1944, Pastor Alexander A. Kosobucki of St. Alexander’s Catholic Church recognized the need for a new medical facility on the south side of Milwaukee and turned to the Felician Sisters for assistance. Mother M. Jolanta and Sister M. Felicitas joined him in assuming responsibility for sponsorship and ownership of the hospital. They worked closely with a group of 20 south side women who headed the St. Francis Hospital Guild and raised $2 million to begin construction. An additional $4 million came from the corporate Felician Fund from the Sisters of the Chicago Province.

It was almost ten years before their dream was realized. Groundbreaking took place on April 24, 1954. A little over two years later, on May 30, 1956, more than 150 Felician Sisters were present at its dedication ceremonies. St. Francis Hospital opened its doors to its first patient on July 16, 1956 when Richard Jansen was born here.

Becoming Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Francis

In 1993, St. Francis joined with three other acute care hospitals to establish Covenant Healthcare, a partnership with the Wheaton Franciscan and Felician Sisters. In July 2006, the system became known as Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and the hospital became known as Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Francis.

St. Francis continues to renovate, upgrade, and add new technology to every department in the hospital. In 2009, renovation of the Emergency Department was completed. The department almost doubled in size to provide more treatment rooms and faster, safer care when seconds count.

Learn more about the history of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.