The Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY, a community of vowed women religious, was founded in 1859 to provide education for girls and young women in southwestern New York State. The Sisters came to Miami Beach in 1927, at the invitation of James Allison, to administer the newly established Allison Hospital, later re-named St. Francis Hospital. In 1931, they came to St. Petersburg and bought Faith Hospital, renaming it St.Anthony’s Hospital; two years later they founded St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. Beginning in 1939, the Sisters ministered at St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach as well as at the nearby Pine Ridge Hospital, the only hospital in the area serving “colored people”; the Sisters were instrumental in eventually integrating St. Mary’s. In every case, these hospital ministries were devoted to meeting the needs of their poor, oppressed and disenfranchised sisters and brothers. Over the years, the ministries in each area grew and changed, always keeping the values of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany at their heart.
In the mid to late 1990′s, as the healthcare environment changed, the Sisters looked for ways to continue their ministries in the Florida communities served by the hospitals. In 1997, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany joined with the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Providence to help form and sponsor Catholic Health East (CHE), a multi-institutional Catholic health system with ministries in 11 eastern states from Maine to Florida. At the same time, the Sisters divested certain assets through their Florida healthcare partnerships and created the initial Allegany Franciscan Foundations to serve three regions of Florida–Miami-Dade County, Tampa Bay and Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties.
In January 1999, the Board made its first distributions — $1,025,000 to seven organizations. That same year, the first CEO was hired and an office was opened in Clearwater; regional offices were opened in Palm Beach County in 2001 and in Miami-Dade in 2003. Throughout its grant-making history, Allegany Franciscan Ministries has made a concerted effort to develop strong relationships with grant seekers, grant partners and the non-profit and funding community in each region and across the state. By the end of 2011, Allegany Franciscan Ministries has made more than 3,000 grants totaling nearly $60 million.