On July 2, 1844, a Franciscan priest, Father Christopher Bernsmeyer, witnessed the religious commitment of women in Our Lady of Grace Chapel in Telgte, a village outside the city of Muenster, Westphalia, Germany. This marked the foundation of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, a religious community dedicated to the service of the sick and those in need.
The Community grew rapidly and in the early years provided assistance to the sick in Westphalia and Silesia. The Sisters were quick to respond to health crises whenever they were called. Accepting the invitation of Bishop Peter Joseph Baltes of Alton, Illinois, 20 Sisters arrived in the United States on November 3, 1875. They established their Motherhouse in Springfield, Illinois and began their ministry by nursing the sick and poor in their homes. In small rural communities, hospitals were built—generally within walking distance of a railroad station. Over the years as the need for health care expanded and evolved, so too have the services provided by the 15 hospitals and network of physician partners of Hospital Sisters Health System.