Mother Alfred Moes, OSF

A Women’s History Month Spotlight

Born Maria Catherine Moes in Luxembourg on October 18, 1828, Mother Alfred Moes moved to New York in 1851. She began teaching in Joliet at St. John the Baptist School in 1863 with her sister, Catherine, making them the first Franciscan Sisters in Illinois. The school would soon begin caring for orphans and expand. In 1869, St. Francis Academy opened, which welcomed girls ages three to 20 from across the country. Mother Moes would send Sisters to teach at the academy whenever there was a need.

When Mother Alberta Stockhoff became the General Superior, she sent Mother Moes to Rochester, Minnesota to build the Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes at the request of Bishop Grace. Within a short time, Bishop Foley separated Mother Moes from the Joliet Congregation, and 20 Joliet Sisters joined her in Rochester. When a tornado devastated the area in 1883, Mother Moes realized the need for a nearby hospital, and so she recruited Dr. Mayo to plan and staff a hospital. On September 30, 1889, Mother Moes opened St. Mary Hospital, which eventually evolved into the Mayo Clinic.

Did Mother Moes establish the University of St. Francis?

While Mother Moes did not found the University of St. Francis, she did establish the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, which established an institute for higher education dedicated to St. Francis for the education of its own members in 1920. In 1925, the school became Assisi Junior College and opened its doors to women outside of the congregation. By 1930 it developed a senior college curriculum and was renamed “College of St. Francis.” The school official became the “University of St. Francis” in 1998, after it advanced to “university” status. The rest is history.

For a larger biography on Mother Moes, visit the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate’s website.