Francis of Assisi
The Franciscan Tradition and Our
repair my house, which as you see, is falling completely to
Thus spoke Our Lord Jesus Christ from the
Crucifix in the Church of San Damiano to Saint Francis of
Assisi, who took Our Lordís 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 Saint
Francis did rebuild with his tremendous zeal for the love of
Christ. The three orders of Saint Francis óthe Friars Minor,
the Poor Clares, and the Third Order óreinvigorated the Church
with love for Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Saint Francisí response to Christís love for
him was a complete giving of himself to Christ in return, and his
joy in that total renunciation of self drew thousands in its wake.
It was the joy of self-sacrifice, concentration on the love of
God, to the extent of self-forgetfulness.
Saint Francis began with nothing. He stripped
himself of the very clothes on his back, covering himself with
borrowed garments to show his complete dependence on the
Providence of God, his Father in Heaven. He built his three orders
from nothing, nothing but the Will of God.
These words from the Cross of San Damiano echo
down the centuries to our own time. How poignant they sound in our
ears, as urgent as ever they were in the thirteenth century! But
the Rule of Saint Francis is a Rule for all time óthe timelessness
Franciscans did once, they can do again!"
These are the words of Fr. Eugene N. Heidt,
the founder of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King. He
established this community of sisters to follow in the
footsteps of Saint Francis, helping to rebuild the Church
through traditional Catholic education. Like Saint Francis,
these Sisters would begin from nothing, completely dependant
on the generosity of others, rebuilding the Franciscan way of
life. Nothing less than the Franciscan approach would suffice
óthe total giving of self in response to Christís love for us;
great, loving acts of trust in the Providence of God;
confidence in Godís ability to work through weak human beings.
Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King. The
congregation's founders, Fr. Eugene Heidt and Mother
Mary Herlinda, are on the right.
"God writes straight
with crooked lines."
Our foundress, Rev. Mother Mary Herlinda,
quotes Fr. Heidt. When she told him she was too old to help found
a new community, this was his response. She decided that her age
would not stand in the way of Godís Will. Her unwavering faith in
God, her dedication to the Rule of Saint Francis, and her
unfailing courage provide the cornerstone of our foundation.
Our prayer life centers around the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass offered by the priests of the Society of St.
Pius X and also by priests who work with the SSPX. Next in
importance is the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary
said in Latin and community prayers said in English, including the
"Francis, go, repair
my house, which as you see, is falling completely to ruin!"
A new community for tradition ...what qualities
should candidates possess? Like Saint Francis, like Saint Clare,
candidates will have an all-encompassing trust in Godís
Providence. They will give love for Love. Our Lordís love for us
demands the most generous response in return. Like Saint Francis,
their response will be courageous. It takes a leap of faith to
join a new community ónot faith in the community itself, but faith
in God Almighty. They will possess strength of character, the high
ideals of a committed traditional Catholic, combined with the
spirit of cooperation necessary for living the community life.
They will also have a strong desire to help rebuild the Catholic
social structure, particularly Catholic education, and a humble
appreciation of the privilege of such a calling. The primary
apostolate of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King is that of
education. Those who do not teach shall work at various positions
within the convent. There is no secondary apostolate in place,
although our constitutions do provide for other endeavors. At this
time, our apostolic efforts need to be focused in one area.
A bit of historyÖ
The Third Order Regular of Saint Francis of
Assisi constitutes a great branch of the Franciscan tree. Although
the concept of third orders can be traced to the Benedictines,
development of the third order gained momentum and structure in
the thirteenth century.
Saint Francis gave direction to third order
members, although not named as such, in his Rule of 1223. At that
time, men and women third order members lived pious lives in the
world, but some of these soon withdrew from the world to form
communities. Italy, Germany, France, and the Netherlands all saw
the development of Third Order Franciscan communities of both men
Over the next few centuries, the Sisters in
various Franciscan communities adjusted to the different
requirements of Holy Mother Church regarding such things as
cloister and apostolate. For example, at one point, monastic
cloister was imposed on all communities of women, whether they
were nuns or sisters. This in turn affected the apostolates.
However, the need for semi-cloistered sisters as well as fully
cloistered nuns became more acute during the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. Revolutionary upheaval engendered greater
and greater need for communities of Franciscans and others who
could be involved with works of charity in the active apostolate,
while maintaining contemplative prayer and community life.
In order to bring the Franciscan Third Order
Regular Rule into conformity with the 1917 Code of Canon Law,
Pope Pius XI promulgated the Franciscan Rule of 1927 on
October 4, given to all congregations of men and women of the
Third Order Regular of Saint Francis of Assisi.
The Franciscan tradition as lived before
Vatican II by the various communities of the Third Order Regular
embodied the active-contemplative way of life. The prayer life of
the sisters provides the foundation and the strength for the
active apostolate. The desperate need for traditional Catholic
teaching sisters inspired the foundation of the Franciscan Sisters
of Christ the King.
Growth has been steady, and the community
quickly outgrew its accommodations. Fr. 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 third facility.
Making do is a good Franciscan tradition, but the arrangements
were not conducive to community life as it is meant to be lived.
After much consideration, Fr. Heidt and Mother Herlinda decided to
purchase a large empty convent in Kansas City, Missouri. This
vacant facility was built in the 1940ís as a Benedictine Convent
of Perpetual Adoration and was once the metropolitan center for
devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, so it is quite famous in the
area. When the Benedictines left in the 1980's, it was used for a
number of years by a non-Catholic group as a home for unwed
mothers and then as a charter school. However since this
complex is suitable only for convent use, and thereby is difficult
to convert for any other use, it was offered for sale.
three-story, brick complex lies on a hill with 6.5 acres
surrounded by a wrought iron fence within the metropolitan
area of the city. The beautiful Romanesque chapel majestically
stands over four stories tall, containing within a marble-clad
and pillared sanctuary with a rounded apse, original choir
stalls with a marvelous, working pipe organ and a large nave.
Attached to the chapel is a six-story bell tower, visible from
a great distance.
Christ the KIng Convent in Kansas City, Missouri
With the purchase of this convent and the
necessary debt, we are moving forward in confidence, relying on
the Hand of God to supply our needs through the charity and
generosity of our fellow Catholics.
The Blessing of Our
"May you be filled in Heaven with the blessing
of the Most High Heavenly Father, and may you be filled on earth
with the blessing of His beloved Son, together with the Most Holy
Spirit, the Paraclete, and all the Virtues of the Heavens and all
- Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Lauds and
- Community Prayers
- Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
- Classwork, Study, Private Prayer, Chores
- Community Prayers
- Terce, Sext and None
- Classwork, Study, Private Prayer, Chores
- Vespers, Community Prayers
- Compline, Community Prayers
- Private Prayer and Study
- Matins said privately
Sisters may be contacted at:
Convent of Christ the King
1409 E. Meyer Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64131