Our congregational spirituality flows from the gift of Baptism through which we share the life and mission of Jesus and from profession of vows through which we deepen our baptismal gift according to the founding charism and sound traditions of our congregation.

St. Francis stained glass window
St. Francis and St. Clare stained glass window

It is rooted in the Gospel as reflected in the lives of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi and Mother Xavier.

It is through the Gospel values that we are called to on-going conversion and simple living.

It is nourished by Scripture, Church teaching and tradition, Franciscan sourc­es, community history, and by openness to the presence of God in all people and creation.

It is incarnated in each of us and is expressed in diverse ways.

Following the Franciscan tradition, our spirituality is shaped by and ex­pressed in contemplation and action.

St. Clare stained glass window


In the use of temporal goods and gifts, we are guided by justice, charity, simplicity and corporate witness.”
Constitution 39

Foundress Mother Xavier born

Year established

Arrived in Dubuque

160 years since founding
Sisters of St. Francis logo

Direction Statement 2020-2026

Rooted in our Franciscan mission and commitment to contemplative dialogue, we the Sisters of St. Francis and Associates set our common heart on the way, responding to the signs of our times as we:

  • Focus our efforts within the intersection of our three commitment areas addressing systemic racism, the climate crisis, and the underlying issues revealed by the pandemic;
  • Enhance our collaboration with diverse partners to give expression to our mission;
  • Explore re-imagining Shalom Spirituality Center as a vehicle for transmitting the Franciscan charism and values.

Corporate Stances

Our Corporate Stances are public statements and/or actions regarding an issue of human concern, social impact, or structural injustice in society or church.

They are reached through reflection, prayer, and dialogue by the membership.

Our corporate stances reflect our Gospel values, keeping with our congregational purpose and priorities, ordinarily pertaining to issues of national or international scope and of current concern. Corporate Stances encourage each sister and/or associate to make a personal supportive action in response.

public actions
Corporate Stance on Earth Charter


We, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Family, committed to live in right relationship with all creation, take a corporate stance to endorse, promote and implement the Earth Charter’s vision, principles and values in how we live, pray, and minister, and in our advocacy for public policy.


“We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future.” (Earth Charter preamble) The whole Earth community is experiencing even more peril. The latest National Climate Assessment, released November 23, 2018 by the US Global Research Program, outlines severe consequences of rapidly rising global temperatures to all areas of our lives: our health, the economy, the environment and infrastructure. The United Nations has warned that we have 12 years in which to limit climate change catastrophe.

The daily news illustrates our current national situation with its constant assault on the environment, democratic institutions and the very social fabric of our country: rollbacks of environmental protection policies, inhumane treatment of immigrants, the sharp decline in civil discourse, abandoning our global commitments, a growing economic disparity, the erosion of institutions that safeguard democracy, the rise of white supremacy and hate groups. These national assaults are mirrored in many countries across the globe. Our Earth Community is crying out for compassionate responses.

The Earth Charter encompasses Gospel and Franciscan values as well as our congregation’s commitment areas, articulating them in today’s terms. It is more important than ever to give witness to the vision, principles and values of the Earth Charter as a positive alternative, finding ways to take action as a congregation and in collaboration with others to create a more just and sustainable world. In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls us to live an “integral ecology” and reminds us that: “…we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” As Francis of Assisi related to all as brother and sister, we too are called to live this familial model of kinship in our time and place. The Earth Charter provides a framework to focus our compassionate responses to the cry of our Earth Community.

Date of passage July 2019

Corporate Stance on Human Trafficking

Because we believe that…

God created each person to have inherent dignity and basic human rights

We are called to live in right relationship with all creation and are responsible for creating a just and moral society

Because we know that…
Human trafficking, the illegal trade of human beings for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor, is a modern form of slavery.

Trafficking has been identified as the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and it generates billions of dollars in profit each year, second only to drug trafficking.

The scope of human trafficking is global and has been reported in all 50 states of the United States.

An estimated 300,000 children are trafficked in the United States.

It is estimated that 75-80% of human trafficking is for sex.

The root causes of human trafficking include: the world-wide demand for prostitution and pornography, wide-spread poverty and homelessness, demand for cheap labor, gender discrimination, economic and social underdevelopment, and the abuse of power through control and exploitation.

In the case of sex trafficking it is often the exploited victims who are criminalized and prosecuted, which prevents them from seeking help, while victims of forced labor are threatened with deportation and harm to loved ones.

We therefore endorse the following corporate stance:

We, the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, in the tradition of Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi, denounce all forms of human trafficking as criminal acts which violate basic human rights and exploit innocent people. We pledge to pray and work diligently with appropriate partners to abolish human trafficking and the economic and social systems that foster it.

We commit to effective action…

  • Educate ourselves and others about the causes, extent and results of trafficking
  • Collaborate with others to work for change in society by supporting programs and services for victims
  • Advocate for legislation and policies that help to identify and prosecute those who exploit victims with the intention of eliminating human trafficking.
  • Include in daily prayer intentions.

Chapter 2014 Commitment

Corporate Stance on Immigration Reform

Approved August 1, 2011

Our mission as Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, is to live in right relationship with all creation. Rooted in the Gospel and the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare we publically proclaim that immigrants have God- given rights to be treated with respect and dignity, to work and to access services that satisfy their basic needs. Basic human rights, the right to life and to migrate in search of the means to sustain life, are conferred not by citizenship but by personhood. We support comprehensive immigration reform that will respect these rights. >

Therefore, we call on our elected legislators of all political parties to introduce and approve comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would respect the rights and basic human needs of all people.

Our Catholic faith grounds us in the realization that each person has inherent dignity because he or she is created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 5:1) and the right to basic human needs (Mt 25:35-40).

We call on our sisters, our associates, and the communities of people with whom we live and work to:

  • Ask the U. S. government to respect the migration history of our country
  • Urge all parties to work together to promote comprehensive immigration reform that is in the best interest of all
  • Insist that the rights and dignity, and basic needs of all persons are respected regardless of their legal status
  • Advocate for the development of national and international policies that respect the basic human rights of the undocumented persons
  • Advocate for a process to verify legal eligibility to work in U. S.
  • Advocate for an adequate guest worker program
  • Advocate for the development of a legalization process for the millions of undocumented people presently in the U.S. to become citizens
  • Advocate for a development of an effective, humane border security system
  • In proclaiming this stance for Comprehensive Immigration Reform we, as Francis, embrace the stranger, the outcast of society and we stand in solidarity with them.

We commit in our personal, communal, and public lives to ongoing conversion as we: stand with persons who are poor.
This is who we are and this is what the global community can expect from us.

Chapter 2008 Commitment

Corporate Stance on Nuclear Disarmament

The Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, are committed to making peace and practicing non-violence.

As one expression of that commitment, the congregation issued the following corporate stance in response to current issues related to nuclear disarmament that demand the attention and action of those committed to peace.

Our mission as Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, is to live in right relationship with all creation. We oppose the maintenance, manufacture, testing, development and threatened use of all nuclear weapons. Therefore, we call on our elected representatives to ratify, and our government to enact the treaties that mandate nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and a comprehensive ban on testing. We also ask for an annual audit of Pentagon spending for the creation and storage of a nuclear arsenal.

In January 1983, we took a corporate stance opposing the production, storage, and use of nuclear weapons. Subsequent developments cause us now to reiterate our stance and focus on specific treaties.

We call on our sisters, our associates, and the communities of people with whom we live and work to:

  • Pressure the U.S. government to respect the two-pronged nature of the non-proliferation treaty and to put as much emphasis on disarmament as on non-proliferation
  • Urge the Senate to ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaties
  • Insist on a annual audit of Pentagon spending on nuclear weapons
Corporate Stance on Sanctuary

Because we are a pilgrim community responding to the needs of the times and impelled by the urgency of the mission, we, the Sisters of St. Francis, voice our endorsement of the Sanctuary Movement of the Central American refugees.

To witness publicly to Gospel values, we engage in an active advocacy campaign to call upon the United States government:

1). To guarantee full due process rights for all asylum seekers
2). To commit itself to the principle of non-refoulement (no forced return when life is in jeopardy) in relation to those who seek asylum in this country
3). To put an end to all actions which exert pressure upon asylum seekers to leave the U.S. without delay when they are seeking refuge here, or which intercept them outside the borders of the U.S. in order to prevent their entry
4). To grant to Salvadorans and other Central Americans seeking refuge in this country the privilege of ‘extended voluntary departure’ until they can return home with a reasonable degree of safety.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

The Socially Responsible Working Group was established in 2016 to continue the long history of Dubuque Franciscan engagement in shareholder action.

  • Shareholder action includes: ESG—Impact Investing, divesting, co-filing resolutions, proxy voting, sign-ons and strengthening the investment policy through annual review.
  • Issues of concern: human rights—immigration, supply chain due diligence, racial equity, diverse workforce; water— a human right, access to safe water, corporate impact on water sourcing & return; health equity domestic & global— equitable access, drug pricing, compensation, lobbying; climate—GHG and Paris Accord, lobbying and political spending, water-air-soil conservation; violence reduction—incarceration, gun manufacturing and easy funding-selling, private prisons; corporate governance—independent chair, lobbying-political spending, board diversity.
  • Collaborates with: Seventh Generation Interfaith CRI (Milwaukee); Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (New York).

In the Franciscan tradition, several guiding principles are basic as economic decisions are implemented:

  • transparency: no hidden schemes or agenda which benefit a few;
  • equity: individuals and communities get what is needed and contribute to the common good;
  • participation: mechanisms of cooperation and communion are built without domination or deprivation;
  • solidarity: all work to undo structures which serve as obstacles to the common good;
  • austerity: the minimum necessary, not the maximum allowed.

Source: David B. Couturier, OFM Cap 2015

“We come together united by a common sharing in Christ and committed to a Gospel life lived in community and shaped by the heritage of our faith, the teachings of Francis, the traditions of our congregation, and by our vision of world realities.”
Constitution 6