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Our values

The work of the GFO network is based on Franciscan values and is in the tradition of Francis of Assisi and Maria Theresa Bonzel.

Our values The work of the GFO network is based on Franciscan values and is in the tradition of Francis of Assisi and Maria Theresa Bonzel.

Our roots

The GFO has its roots in the work of the Order of Franciscan Sisters of Olpe. It was founded in 1863 by Maria Theresia Bonzel . The Maria Theresia Bonzel Foundation carries on this work and ideas. The GFO association implements the goals of the Maria Theresia Bonzel Foundation in its facilities. These are in the tradition of the thought and work of St. Francis of Assisi. Christian ethics and values guide the actions of the employees. The Christian identity of the GFO is expressed, among other things, in openness and friendliness. The mission statement serves as a guideline for daily service and as a basis for cooperation among employees. The GFO is a modern, cosmopolitan association in which people of other religions and denominations are also welcome.

About the dew

Francis of Assisi often wrote the T (pronounced: Tau) at the end of his letters or painted it on trees or buildings. The Tau is the initial letter of the Greek word "Tapeinos," which has the meaning "humble," among other things, and the GFO's figurative mark foregrounds this powerful symbol.

Francis of Assisi was impressed by the experience that the voluntary renunciation of wealth and power gives people freedom. He himself came from very rich circumstances. He consciously and voluntarily chose to live a life of consistent poverty. He fascinated many of his contemporaries so much that numerous men and women joined him and his idea.

The dew symbol had another meaning for Francis of Assisi: In the Hebrew Bible, which we today call the Old Testament, he found a prophetic text in the Book of Ezekiel. There it is described that people who work for a socially just and godly life in Israel are marked with a Hebrew "Taw" (or "dew") on their forehead. Francis of Assisi understood this sign as an expression of commitment to justice and as a protection that guards against harm.

Now, when this sign appears in GFO's figurative mark, we are tying in with these remarkable ideas. Our institutions and services are part of the Franciscan movement. From its beginning, the GFO has seen it as its task to offer help and protection to people in their many needs and hardships. It is committed to justice and social peace. It does so in the knowledge that this endeavor is in accordance with God's will and is blessed by Him.

Francis of Assisi &Maria Theresia Bonzel

The founding history of the GFO is connected with an impressive person, Francis of Assisi. His respectful treatment of creation and people, his connection with all living things, has always inspired people to live from this attitude. This is also the case with Maria-Theresia Bonzel. She is one of the great female figures of the 19th century. In 1863, she founded the religious community of the Franciscan Sisters of Olpe. Her commitment was to people in need. Regardless of her origin or personal worldview, she met every person with respect, appreciation and the search for appropriate help. Consequently, the foundation was named after her. The Maria Theresia Bonzel Foundation is a shareholder of the GFO together with the German Province of the Order, the "Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, e.V." . The economic management is in the hands of the GmbH. The foundation continues the intentions of Maria Theresia Bonzel and thus permanently shapes the Christian Franciscan values in the GFO. The guiding principles of the foundation are the basis for the mission statement of the GFO. GFO's corporate values and culture are influenced by this founding impulse of Franciscan religious history.


Founder of the Franciscan Movement

"First do what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you're doing the impossible."

Francis of Assisi was born in Assisi, Italy, in 1181/1182 and lived convincingly and committedly according to the example of Jesus of Nazareth. This way of life quickly attracted like-minded people. Peace, solidarity, justice and the integrity of creation were defining values for him.

Francis founded the Order of Friars Minor (the "First Order") and was involved in the formation of the religious community of the Poor Clares, founded by Clare of Assisi (the "Second Order").

In the year of St. Francis' death in 1226, his community had already grown to more than 5,000 friars.

At the request of many people who lived like Francis, shared his values, but did not want to belong to a monastic community, Francis wrote a Rule that applied to this so-called "Third Order." And this community also spread very quickly throughout Italy and Europe.

Founders of religious orders in later centuries took this rule and used it for their new foundations. Mother Maria Theresa Bonzel did the same for her new community in 1863.

Maria Theresa Bonzel

Foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Olpe

Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel was one of the leading female figures in the Catholic Church of the 19th century. She was born in Olpe on September 17, 1830, and baptized Regina Christina Wilhelmina; she was called Aline.

Despite a secure standard of living in a wealthy family, she began early to develop a vigilant sense of the many needs around her.

Firmly rooted in the Catholic faith, marked by an intense prayer life and a deep love for Jesus Christ, she felt a responsibility to help those in need.

Together with like-minded people, she founded a religious community, which received its ecclesiastical confirmation from Bishop Konrad Martin of Paderborn on July 20, 1863, as the community of the "Poor Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at Olpe."

Her ideal of life was to live poorly like St. Francis in order to be free for the worship of God and the service of Christ's brothers and sisters. She founded an apostolic and charitable religious community, but she did not want a secular charity or a party to care for the poor, but a community that saw in "adoring and tackling" its two main tasks.

From the beginning, it introduced Eucharistic adoration of God as an obligatory task that would permeate and shape the apostolate, the fulfillment of daily vocational work. Initially, she undertook the care and education of neglected children, a task that was particularly important to her.

With the spread of the religious community in Germany and North America, of which she was the leader until her death, she was able to take on other charitable activities such as outpatient and inpatient nursing, care of the elderly, education of young children and of girls in sewing schools and high schools.

During her work, she was able to gather more than 1,500 sisters around her and inspire them with wise leadership for her ideals.

Maria Theresia Bonzel died on February 6, 1905 in the Olper Motherhouse. All who knew her experienced her as a unique personality who, deeply anchored in God, radiated infinite goodness and human kindness.

On November 10, 2013, she was received into the circle of the Blessed of the Catholic Church in Paderborn Cathedral.