In 1938, five pioneer Sisters sailed to Brazil to serve Lithuanian communities who had settled in the São Paulo area. Soon after they arrived, our Sisters established a school in Vila Zelina, a small borough of São Paulo, because they knew the vital importance of education for children and young people.
Similar to our experience in the United States, our Community in Brazil continued to grow and our ministries expanded to serve persons of all backgrounds from cities to rural communities, as well as missions in the Amazon and Bolivia. 


Today, in São Paulo, more than 3,500 students attend primary and secondary schools sponsored by our Congregation. These schools include Colégio Franciscano Nossa Senhora do Carmo, the first co-educational Catholic school in São Paulo, Colégio Franciscano de São Miguel Arcanjo, and Colégio Franciscano Pio XII.  Our schools offer students a quality education, bilingual studies in Portuguese and English, and the opportunity to learn new technologies, like 3D printing. Pio XII and São Miguel schools offer an international program where students earn a US diploma and college credits, in addition to opportunities to become multi-lingual in Portuguese and English, Spanish, French, or Mandarin.   

In 2016, our Congregation took over the administration of Colégio São Francisco de Assisi in Barbacena, Minas Gerais where they also engage in pastoral ministries serving many persons in the region experiencing poverty.

Our Community also sponsors Saint Francis and Saint Clare Social Center in São Paulo, where children and young people come together before and after school to study, learn skills, and recreate with peers. The Center’s goal is to empower at-risk youth to grow and thrive.


In the 1950s, Sisters in Brazil diversified into healthcare ministry as they extended their mission beyond São Paulo to the state of Minas Gerais. At the request of Fr. Sinfronio Torres de Freitas, our Sisters assumed responsibility for a 12-bed maternity clinic in Pedro Leopoldo. In addition to staffing the clinic, our Sisters arranged for mothers to receive free milk when they took their babies home. In 1988, the Beneficent Society of St. Camillus assumed administration of the hospital, while our Sisters continued to offer pastoral care to patients. Sisters also served in Good Shepard Hospital in the western Amazon region on the border of Bolivia where they offered medical care and pastoral services to the impoverished and isolated communities they served.

Today in Brazil, healthcare ministry continues through the work of Sisters engaged in nursing, physical therapy, and other healthcare-related ministries, including Sister Marlene who serves as a surgeon and physician. Several Sisters provide medical services to rural and impoverished areas in the Amazon region of Brazil. Sister Vandete serves a nurse on the Pope Francis Hospital Boat in the Amazon and joins our Sister Lucia who has been providing triage services and other assistance. Sister Juliana Aires provides physical therapy to patients at a hospital run by the Franciscan Brothers in Óbidos. Recently her efforts have focused on helping COVID-19 patients recover and manage lingering effects of the disease and hospitalization.

Pastoral Care and Parish Ministry

Much of the varied ministries of our Sisters in Brazil fall under the umbrella of pastoral ministry, which includes serving persons experiencing poverty and other challenges through a variety of spiritual and social services. Beyond the favelas of São Paulo and other urban areas, our Sisters have been called to serve in rural and remote areas only accessible by motorcycle, boat, or horseback. Sisters also serve indigenous communities and have been missioned to Bolivia and Haiti. One of the newest missions is in Obidos, which is located in the remote Amazon region.