Saint Francis Community Services leases convent to serve children in foster care, families, and newly resettled refugees

The Saint Francis Foundation
Posted Jun 15, 2018

Saint Francis Community Services Leases Original Convent from Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph for Multi-Purpose Complex Serving Children in Foster Care, Families, and Newly Resettled Refugees

Contact: The Saint Francis Foundation, Vickee Spicer, 785.823.2036, ext. 1916, Vickee.Spicer@st-francis

WICHITA, KS – Saint Francis Community Services, an independent Episcopal ministry, has leased the former convent of the Roman Catholic Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph at 3730 E. Lincoln Drive, and is readying the 68,000-square-foot building to accommodate an array of early childhood development, independent living, health care, and life skills programs for children in foster care, their families, and newly resettled refugees. The building and operations will be known as Saint Francis at The Mount, and will include community partnerships with Early Head Start and Head Start, among others.

Nearly 40 Sisters of St. Joseph have moved into a recently built 57,000-square-foot center at the south end of the property. The Sisters, many of whom are retired teachers, administrators and nurses, will be active volunteers and mentors in Saint Francis’ programs, especially those involving infants and children. Additionally, youth in independent living at The Mount may have the opportunity for employment with the Congregation.

“We are both humbled and blessed to have this opportunity at The Mount to help us further meet the needs of vulnerable children and families in Wichita,” said The Very Reverend Robert N. Smith, Dean and CEO of Saint Francis Community Services. “Through service to others, the spiritual missions of Saint Francis and the Sisters of St. Joseph are intertwined. Both organizations are advocates for systemic changes and tangible measures that improve lives and strengthen family bonds. To enhance the welfare of children and families, there could not be a more perfect union.”

Sr. Marguerite O’Brien CSJ, from the Congregation’s Leadership Team, agrees: “We are excited about welcoming Saint Francis Community Services and those that they serve to our campus. As two organizations committed to serving vulnerable populations and the emerging needs of our world, we see this as a wonderful time of possibilities.”

Saint Francis has already begun Phase I of its transition into The Mount and will continue in three phases to be completed by 2021. Existing spaces are being repurposed for offices, training areas, an onsite daycare, and independent living quarters. In Phase II, space will be dedicated to behavioral health programs, so Saint Francis’ clients may have access to these services all under one roof.

In all, about 50 new staff members will be hired by Saint Francis as programming expands at The Mount. Specific programs include:

PHASE I (now underway)

Independent Living for teens and young adults who are about to age out of foster care custody. Saint Francis will provide housing for 20 youth ages 16 and older, and assist them with obtaining a high school diploma or GED, job training, life skills training, and parenting classes.

Early Head Start and Head Start will sublease space from Saint Francis at The Mount. Early Head Start will offer services for 15 newborn to 3-year-olds and Head Start will provide services for 20 3- to 5-year-olds, including children in foster care served by Saint Francis.

Saint Francis Migration Ministries, which assists in the local resettlement of refugees approved through the U.S. Department of State’s Resettlement Program. More than 80 refugees were resettled in Wichita last year, largely from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea and Burma. Saint Francis Migration Ministries helps refugees with housing, food, clothing, furnishings, language skills, access to medical care, and job readiness training during their first 90 days in the community.

Saint Francis Community Services’ administrative offices for the Wichita area. Administrative and training facilities from Saint Francis’ 4415 E. Harry office in Wichita have moved to The Mount, freeing up space in the East Harry location to provide additional client services.


Behavioral Healthcare Program. Already licensed for the provision of substance use programs at its facilities in Salina and Kansas City, Saint Francis will seek an additional license for a Wichita program offering outpatient services at The Mount. A licensed psychologist will be hired, as well. Plans also call for the eventual offering of telemedicine services.


Independent Living for teens and young adults who have already aged out of foster care custody. This is a desperately needed service, as more than 200 young people who were formerly in foster care are currently homeless in Wichita. Saint Francis is currently working with United Way of the Plains, Wichita Children’s Home and other non-profits to obtain a HUD grant in support of this program.

“We are on the cusp of building one of the most comprehensive community partnerships in the country, all with the focus on children and families,” Fr. Smith said. “We could not do this without the generous support of the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph, and we sincerely hope the five-year lease we have begun turns into an ongoing commitment for years to come. We are all dedicated to making The Mount a community success story, as well as a national model that demonstrates how shared resources and missions can make a remarkable difference in a community.”

About The Saint Francis Foundation
The mission of The Saint Francis Foundation is to support the mission of Saint Francis Community Services in providing hope and healing to children and families. Learn more at

About Saint Francis Community Services
Founded by an Episcopal priest in 1945 in Ellsworth, Kansas, Saint Francis Community Services encompasses foster care, therapeutic foster care, adoption, family preservation, residential care, and community outreach services. Firmly rooted in the Episcopal tradition, Saint Francis serves more than 30,000 clients through child and family welfare services in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, and Central America. Additionally, Saint Francis provides supervised living and employment services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Mississippi.

Since 2015, Saint Francis Community Services ( has expanded its ministry to include comprehensive international programs serving children and families in El Salvador and Honduras as well as strengthening the field of child welfare in China through its participation in the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations Professional Fellows Program.

The Sisters of St. Joseph in Kansas began in 1888 in Abilene, Kansas, where the Community remained for eight years. Beginning in 1896, the Bishops shuffled the Community from Abilene to Parsons to St. Paul until, finally, in 1900, the Community received its new home in Wichita, Kansas. The Motherhouse was named Mount St. Mary’s Convent. Mother M. Bernard Sheridan was superior. Along with the permanent home, the Sisters were given charge of the orphans of the diocese and gradually expanded to provide care for persons who had been widowed, as well as sick. In 2007, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita joined with six other formerly independent communities of Sisters of St. Joseph to form one united community, now known as the Congregation of St. Joseph.

The Sisters’ current ministries at The Mount in Wichita will continue to serve the needs of the most vulnerable. Located in Wichita’s Hilltop neighborhood, Step Stone and Dear Neighbor ministries, especially, will carry on their important work with women and children.