In the Catholic Church, the religious congregations and orders were founded by men or women who became renowned in the Church for their holiness. Each of these founders had a unique style of following Christ and of answering the call of the Holy Spirit in their own lives and circumstances.
Frances Schervier was an affluent, educated lay woman living in Aachen, Germany in the 1840's at the beginning of the industrial revolution. She was a person with a deep prayer life, and was aware of the misery around her, especially among the poor, who were often not paid a just wage and who lived in squalid conditions.
Frances was already a Franciscan when she, along with four companions, founded the Congregation on the Feast of Pentecost in 1845. She was a member of the Secular Franciscan Third Order, a group of men and women dedicated to the charism and spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi to follow in the footsteps of Christ by proclaiming the good news of the Gospel, serving the poor, and reverencing creation.
In her Autobiography, she writes: "It seemed to me that I had perceived from the cross that I should dedicate myself entirely to the Lord through active works of charity. A fire of holy love for my neighbor burned within me. I felt a great desire to seek out and love the Lord in the poor, the sick, and the unfortunate. I believed that I saw the Lord himself in the poor and the sick, and I was overjoyed at being able to serve and care for him."