Sister Frances Butler was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1924. She was the fourth of her sisters to attended Woman’s College (WC) in Greensboro, North Carolina, which she did for two years before becoming the third of her sisters to join in the U.S. Navy WAVES [Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service] in the summer of 1944.
Butler was sworn into the service in Nashville, Tennessee, and sent to Hunter College in New York for boot camp. She worked in communications while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, and then the following summer was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
After leaving the WAVES, Butler returned to Woman’s College in fall 1946, double majoring in French and Spanish, and completing her degree in 1948. She received a French government assistantship and taught at a boys’ school in France for a year.
Butler returned to the U.S. and attended Columbia University in New York, but returned to WC in 1951 to serve as a counselor at the request of Dean Katherine Taylor. Three years later she
enrolled in a counseling program at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. While there, she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who ran nearby Trinity Washington University.
In the mid-1950s, Butler joined the Sisters of Notre Dame in Belgium. She then returned to the U.S. and taught French at Trinity, then was sent to Rome for five years in the 1960s. Following a year-long pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Butler returned to Washington, D.C., to establish and direct the sisters' Education for Parish Services [EPS] Faith Vacations program.