Information about the traditional Franciscans founded to teach in SSPX schools
“Francis, go, repair My house, which as you see is falling completely to ruin!”
Thus spoke Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Crucifix in the Church of San Damiano to Saint Francis of Assisi, who took Our Lord’s words quite literally, and with his own hands rebuilt San Damiano and St. Mary of the Angels. But Our Lord was speaking of the whole Church, which St. Francis did rebuild with his tremendous zeal for the love of Christ. Franciscan zeal helped to reinvigorate the Church with love for Our Lord Jesus Christ, particularly in the Blessed Sacrament.
“What the Franciscans did Once, They Can Do Again!”
Thus spoke our founder, Father Eugene N. Heidt. The clear need for traditional Catholic teaching sisters inspired the foundation of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King. Father Heidt, working with the Society of St. Pius X in Oregon, recognized the need for teaching Sisters who would help staff SSPX schools. He was drawn to the Franciscan heritage by the close link between Franciscan spirituality and “good Catholic sense.”
“God Writes Straight With Crooked Lines.”
These were the words of Fr. Heidt to our foundress, Sister Mary Herlinda McCarty O.S.F., when she told him that she was too old to help found a new community. As he was searching for a founding sister “who knew how to pray,” Father Carl Pulvermacher O.F.M. Cap. recommended Sister Herlinda McCarty, as one of the finest sisters he had ever known. With Fr. Heidt and Fr. Carl encouraging her, she agreed to help the new community.
Sister Herlinda pronounced her perpetual vows in 1933, and served her Franciscan Community as a teacher and local superior for over 65 years. Fighting to preserve the traditional practice of her vows eventually brought her into contact with the Society of St. Pius X. When her community forbade her to attend the traditional Latin Mass, she found refuge with the Society in Dickinson, Texas. Although very humble in her view of usefulness to the new community, she accepted the responsibility and with it, the title of “Mother.”
Under the direction of the SSPX district superior, in 2000, Fr. Heidt founded the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King, using the 1927 Rule of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis approved by Pope Pius XI.
The Move From Oregon to Kansas City
Father Heidt kindly provided the first house, which quickly extended to a second house a mile away, with a small nearby mobile home added as the community grew. Making do is a good Franciscan tradition, but these arrangements were not conducive to community life. Father Heidt and Mother Herlinda had the foresight to purchase a convent in Kansas City, close to the district house of the SSPX. The convent was built in the 1940s as a Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration, and was used as a home for unwed mothers and a school before we purchased it in 2002. The impressive Romanesque structure lies on 6 acres in the heart of the metropolitan district of Kansas City, and was featured in a 2018 issue of the Kansas City Star as one of Kansas City’s historic gems. We own the building and are free of debt.
Franciscan simplicity, poverty as an expression of charity in imitation of Christ, love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and deep respect for the priesthood are aspects of the spirituality of St. Francis. Our Lord’s Incarnation, Nativity and Holy Name, His Passion and Death, His Kingship, devotion to Our Lady and her Immaculate Conception, and devotion to St. Joseph—brought by the Franciscans from the Holy Land—all are particular Franciscan devotions, and yet are simply Catholic. Even devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has a Franciscan connection: Our Lord gave St. Margaret Mary into the care of St. Francis of Assisi because St. Francis was so close to His Sacred Heart.
Our Community’s Prayer Life and Apostolate
The Franciscan tradition as lived by Third Order Regular communities relies on the strong prayer life of semi-cloistered sisters, which provides the foundation and strength for the active apostolate.
Our prayer life centers around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X and priests who work with the SSPX. We chant or recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Latin, and say a number of community prayers in English, particularly the daily Rosary. In our Constitutions, our way of life is placed under the protection of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church, and of course St. Francis of Assisi and the great Franciscan saints.
Directly or indirectly, all our Sisters have a share in the works of the apostolate of Catholic education. Since shortly after our arrival in Kansas City, Missouri, we have taught at St. Vincent de Paul Academy. Our community may teach all grades, all subjects, and both boys and girls. We have extended the work of the community to include parish visits, recollection days for first communicants, and days of conferences and activities with girls (and sometimes younger boys).
Lauds and Prime of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Community Prayers, Meditation
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Thanksgiving after Mass
Teaching, Classwork, study, private prayers, chores
Terce, Sext, None (Little Office BVM)
Teaching, Classwork, study, private prayers, chores
Vespers (Little Office BVM)
Rosary, Compline (Little Office BVM)
Private Prayer and Study
Women interested in joining should have a desire to serve God in the religious life, a high school diploma or GED, the high ideals of a committed traditional Catholic, combined with the spirit of cooperation necessary for living the community life.
Candidates should be between the ages of 18 and 35 and in reasonably good health.
Those interested should write a detailed letter of introduction to
Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King
1409 E. Meyer Blvd.
Kansas City, Missouri 64131