From its humble beginnings 78 years ago, when a group of Franciscan Sisters began to care for a pair of elderly women in a small house on 6th Street in Santa Ana, the Saint Francis Home has evolved into a caring and loving home for the elderly.

Since then, the Mexico-based Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception have expanded their mission in Southern California. Saint Francis Home is one of their two assisted living facilities.

Although it remains one of the better kept secrets in the local Catholic community, Saint Francis Home has grown into a two-story, 73-room, 102,000 square-foot facility with its own chapel and adjacent convent on land that now encompasses an entire block from W. Fifth to W. Sixth and N. Raitt to N. Pacific streets. It hasn’t always been easy, and never were circumstances more dire than at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, when a number of residents and nuns were stricken. Many were moved to hospitals or returned to their families. One nun and seven residents passed away.

Earlier this year, Sister Elia Caro was summoned and has taken over both as administrator and Superior. Like most of the Sisters, she has done rotations at Saint Francis Home, in her case dating back to 1992.

Although there is capacity for 90 residents, the community dropped to 20 and is working to rebuild and weather the lingering pandemic. Saint Francis Home has openings for residents who are Covid-free and vaccinated.

Saint Francis Home is a private, non-profit 501 (c) retirement residence for the elderly, with affordable rates. Although not formally affiliated with the Diocese of Orange, the Sisters have separate oversight, they walk similar paths and serve the same population.

That is why, when the situation at the house was at its worst, the Diocese sent volunteers to help care for and feed residents….

The Sisters came to Southern California in 1926, fleeing the bloody Cristero War between Catholic loyalists and the Mexican government. Invited to settle in Orange County by Archbishop Cantwell, eight Sisters eventually settled into the little gray house where the convent and Home are now located.

Soon after, they were deeply involved in community and religious activities, including teaching in Spanish and English, visiting the sick and shut-ins and even making altar bread for churches.

But it was the advent of the Home where they eventually found greater purpose.