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February 2020: These Are Our Sisters Part II: The Sisters of the Humility of Mary’s Healthcare Ministry

by Mary Cay Doherty

Please click here to view the digital poster.

A comprehensive history of the Sisters’ healthcare ministry would require a book-length manuscript—so great were their contributions. This article, then, purports only to provide a snapshot of the Sisters’ role in opening four facilities that continue to meet the needs of people in the Youngstown, Warren, Cleveland, and Lorain communities today. As our story closes, we will also look at healthcare collaboration between the Sisters of the Humility of Mary and the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Bon Secours.

For this article, a special thanks goes out to Sister Joanne Gardner and Sister Carol Anne Smith. Sister Joanne was instrumental with the “history” part of our story. Sister Joanne Gardner, archivist for the HM community, provides the strong backbone for many Archives Antics columns. This month is no exception; she provided chronological and historical information about the Sisters’ healthcare ministry and shared wonderful photographs. Sister Carol Anne Smith, former Magnificat teacher, principal, and President, shared her first-hand knowledge of the HM Sisters’ role in healthcare today. Sister Carol Anne serves on the Bon Secours Mercy Ministries Board and the Bon Secours Mercy Health System (BSMH) Corporate Board of Directors. As we will see later in the article, these boards provide the structure and leadership to ensure that the Catholic healthcare ministries supported collaboratively by the HMs and other religious communities remain viable and vibrant in the 21st century.

The Early Days: Smallpox Epidemics and “the Sisters’ Hospital up the Lowell Hill”

The 1854 Rules and Statutes for the Sisters of the Humility of Mary contained a charity mandate, so from their earliest years, the Sisters helped care for the sick. And when they arrived in New Bedford, Pennsylvania, they were instrumental in caring for neighbors during smallpox epidemics in 1864 and 1872.  In an account book from the era, a line item notes that $82 was spent on smallpox medicine.[1] Adjusting for inflation, this medicine would cost $1,725.76 in today’s dollars. 

You will recall from last month’s article that the Sisters were penniless when they arrived in America and even considered returning to France shortly after their arrival so dire were their financial prospects. Against this backdrop of despair, Mother Anna and her small band of Sisters transformed the New Bedford acreage into a productive farm that not only provided for the Sisters but allowed them to offer care for the community at large including those victims of smallpox epidemics.

In addition to farming, the Sisters also sold timber to the railroad, and in dealings with the railroad company, Mother Anna became aware that injured workers had limited access to treatment.[2]  And so, in 1879, the Sisters opened St. Joseph Infirmary at their Motherhouse in New Bedford. For the HM community, this marks the official beginning of the healthcare work in the Mahoning Valley. The railroad workers referred to the infirmary as the “Sisters’ Hospital up the Lowell Hill.”

St. Elizabeth Hospital[3]

In July 1909, a small group of clergy and laymen from Youngstown began planning for a hospital in Youngtown. Cleveland Diocesan Bishop John P. Farrelly approved their proposal and entrusted the HM Sisters with the management and operation of the hospital. St. Elizabeth Hospital began treating patients in December of 1911.

The hospital’s centennial celebration publication chronicles Mother Patrick Ward’s detailed plans for how the community planned to staff and manage the hospital. Sister Genevieve Downey who had been the Superioress at the Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes in Cleveland was reassigned to manage the hospital. Additionally, Sisters Gilberta, Evelyn, and Eileen were pulled from their ministries in schools and enrolled in the nursing school established by Sister Genevieve to train the Sisters and lay nurses. Sister Patricia, who had also been serving in a school, was trained for pharmacy department. Sister Geraldine was assigned to be Sister Genevieve’s assistant, and Sister Petronilla was assigned to “domestic labor.”

One of the first graduates of the nursing school was Sister Thecla McManamon who showed up at St. Elizabeth’s in February of 1912 with an ear infection. Sister Thecla received treatment but was simultaneously recruited to serve meals to patients. Shortly thereafter, Sister Thecla took Sister Eileen’s place in the nursing program. Sister Eileen died of tuberculosis contracted while she was enrolled in a summer course. These unexpected twists of fate resulted in Sister Thecla’s 30-year ministry at St. Elizabeth’s. She died at the Villa on May 30, 1992 at age 102 and 10 months. To date, she holds the longevity record in the HM Community.

In 1926, the Cleveland Diocese transferred ownership of diocesan hospitals to the congregations that operated them, and so St. Elizabeth Hospital officially belonged to the HM Sisters.

In addition to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, the Sisters also bought and operated Riverside Hospital in Warren in 1924 at the bishop’s request. The hospital was renamed St. Joseph Riverside Hospital.[4] The Sisters closed St. Joseph Riverside in 1996 after acquiring Warren General Hospital and renaming it St. Joseph Warren Hospital.[5]

In the 1980s, both hospitals were subsumed into the newly created Humility of Mary Health Care system. And when the Humility of Mary Health Care system merged with Mercy Health system in 1996, the hospitals’ names eventually reflected the new partnership: Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and Mercy Health—St. Joseph Warren Hospital.  As of 2018, both hospitals are part of the Bon Secours Mercy Health system.[6]  We will discuss the Sisters of the Humility of Mary’s partnerships with the Sisters of the Mercy and the Sisters of Bon Secours later in this article.

Rose-Mary Center

In 1922, the HM Sisters became the administrators for Rose-Mary Center, a home for crippled children. The center began when Caesar Grasselli donated his Euclid summer home and seven acres to the Cleveland diocese to rehabilitate children with physical disabilities. Grasselli’s wife Johanna had been sick for years before her death, and Grasselli wanted to honor her memory. Rose-Mary Center opened with a Mass on October 15, 1922.

The Rose-Mary Center was named to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and in remembrance of Johanna Grasselli’s beloved rose garden.[7]   And according to a Euclid Observer article, the first resident was an orphan named Polly who had been found in an “ashcan” in a deserted alley, but “[w]ith Rose-Mary's help, …grew into a healthy child giving promise of a happy, productive life.”[8]

St. Joseph Hospital in Lorain, Ohio

In 1927, the Sisters took over St. Joseph Hospital in Lorain. This hospital was founded in 1892 by Father Joseph L. Bihn with help from Franciscan Sisters M. Ludmilla Schmidt and M. Antonia Adamst.[17]  The hospital, which originally operated out of a house, was established to perform operations on children who were too sick to travel to Cleveland for surgeries and treatment.[18]

The HM Sisters operated the hospital from 1927 until the late 1990s.  In 1994, they briefly merged St. Joseph Hospital with Lorain Community Hospital, but ultimately, in 1997, St. Joseph Hospital in Lorain closed.   

At this juncture, however, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary partnered with the Sisters of Mercy in operating Mercy Hospital in Lorain. Today, Sister Carole Anne Griswold, HM is on the Mercy Hospital Board of Directors. Sister Carole Anne began her healthcare ministry at St. Joseph Hospital as a nurse in 1967[19] and later served at Mercy Hospital as the Vice President for Mission Integration (she retired from this position in September 2013). [20] We in the Magnificat community know Sister Carole Anne as a member of our Board of Directors.

Sisters Partnering Together for Healthcare[21]

For the Sisters of the Humility of Mary caring for the sick is a ministry embedded in the DNA of their community since its founding. But healthcare in the modern United States is also a byzantine and expensive business.  By the end of the 20th century, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary astutely recognized that consolidation and collaboration would position them to continue and improve the quality of care they could provide for the sick and poor in America.  

In 1984, all the separate health care facilities sponsored by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary were joined as members of the Humility of Mary Health Care system.  In 1996 the Humility of Mary Health Care system first merged in the Catholic Healthcare Partners system which was later renamed the Mercy Health System.

The Sisters of Mercy, another sponsoring congregation, began in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831 with their foundress Catherine McAuley. In 1843 they answered a call from the bishop of Pittsburgh to come to America (only 21 years before the HM’s arrival). In 1986, the Sisters, with other congregations, formed the Catholic Healthcare Partners. Today the Sisters of Mercy work throughout the United States in healthcare, education, pastoral, and social services ministries.

In 2018, the Mercy Health system merged with the Bon Secours health system[22] based in Maryland. The Sisters of Bon Secours were founded in Paris, France, in 1824. (Paris is 239 miles west of Dommartin-sous-Amance.) The Sisters came to America in 1881 (just 17 years after the HMs arrived in Pennsylvania) at the invitation of Cardinal Gibbon and the Archdiocese of Maryland.

As a result of these mergers (Humility of Mary with Catholic Healthcare Partners in 1996 and Mercy Health with Bon Secours in 2018), the Bon Secours Mercy Health system is the fifth largest Catholic health care ministry in the United States and the 20th largest healthcare system in the United States overall.[23]  The Sisters from these three congregations work collaboratively with the healthcare system’s leaders to care for people’s physical, spiritual, and emotional needs at a time when they are most vulnerable. The Bon Secours Mercy Health system (BSMH) provides almost $2 million dollars of “community benefit” each day.[24]

Bon Secours Mercy Ministries is the PJP (Public Juridic Person) Board that is ultimately responsible for BSMH and its relationship to the Catholic Church. The PJP designation, established by the Canon Law of the Church, ensures that the Bon Secours Mercy Health system will maintain its Catholic identity and values even though the organization is no longer solely under the control of their sponsoring communities of Sisters.[25]

Within the PJP structure, representatives from the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, Sisters of Mercy, and Sisters of Bon Secours serve on the PJP Board to make certain that the Bon Secours Mercy Health system remains faithful to their Catholic mission. The PJP Board also submits required reports to the Church in Rome attesting to this.[26]  

While many HM Sisters are involved in the BSMH, Sister Carol Anne Smith, HM is the HM’s PJP board member and currently serves on the BSMH Corporate Board of Directors as well.  She also served on the Catholic Healthcare Partners Board and PJP board prior to the recent merger.[27]  Sister Carol Anne Smith is well known to the Magnificat community.  From 1971-1975, she taught English and Theology, and she was the assistant principal from 1975-1980.  She served as principal from 1981-1988. Sister Carol Anne returned to Magnificat as the school’s president from 2007-2013. Then, we were so privileged to have benefitted from her leadership, and today, we are proud of, and inspired by, her continued contributions in service of others.

The PJP and corporate boards celebrate the real and symbolic role of each congregation’s founding location. For example, Sister Carol Anne Smith recently returned from meetings in Dublin, Ireland (the Sisters of Mercy’s founding location) and Paris, France (the Sisters of Bon Secours’ founding home). And in the Fall of 2020, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary will host the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Bon Secours at the Villa in Pennsylvania.

Conclusion

From their earliest days, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary have lived a primary tenet of their order by providing charity and care for one of society’s most vulnerable populations: The sick. In this ministry, they have transformed the lives of countless people along the way.  Today, undeterred by the costs and challenges of modern health care, they continue in this important work. 

We could devote many more pages to the HM health care ministry’s history and impact but will end our discussion for today. Please check out the digital poster for pictures and additional information. And please join us next month as we explore the role of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary in education, specifically at Magnificat.

Bibliography

St. Elizabeth Health Center, Youngstown, Ohio (and St. Joseph-Riverside, Warren)

Gardner, Joanne. Email correspondence with Mary Cay Doherty. November 14-19, 2019.

Gardner, Joanne. “Sisters of the Humility of Mary: History of HM Health Care Ministry.” August 30, 2019. Microsoft Word document shared via email September 9, 2019.

Cahal, Sherman. “St. Joseph Riverside Hospital.” Abandoned. 2000-2018.  http://abandonedonline.net/location/st-joseph-riverside-hospital/.

_____. “Humility of Mary Sisters.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University. 2019.  https://case.edu/ech/articles/h/humility-mary-sisters.

_____. “Our History.” Mercy Health. Accessed 11/17/2019. https://www.mercy.com/about-us/history

_____. The History of St. Elizabeth Health Center, Youngtown Ohio: The Evolution of Humility of Mary Health Partners’ Healing Ministry.  2012. https://issuu.com/myhmhp/docs/st._elizabeth_the_history_the_evolution.

Rose-Mary Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Beaubien, Jason. “Wiping Out Polio: How the U.S. Snuffed Out a Killer.” NPR. October 15, 2012. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/10/16/162670836/wiping-out-polio-how-the-u-s-snuffed-out-a-killer.

Cantlin, Donna. “Rose-Mary Center.” Euclid Observer Vol 3, Issue 1. Euclid: Observer Family of Community Owned Media. February 2, 2012. http://euclidobserver.com/read/2012/02/02/rosemary-center.

Kochanek Kevin D., Murphy SL, Xu GQ, Arias E. “Deaths: Final Data for 2017.” National Vital Statistics Report Volume 68 No. 9. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics 2019. June 24, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_09-508.pdf.

_____. “About Us.” Rose-Mary Center. 2019. http://www.rose-marycenter.com/about.

_____. “Historical National Population Estimates: July 1, 1900 – July 1, 1999. Population Estimates Program, Population Division. U.S. Census Bureau. April 11, 2000. https://www.census.gov/population/estimates/nation/popclockest.txt.

_____. “Rose-Mary Center.” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University. 2019. https://case.edu/ech/articles/r/rose-mary-center.

_____. “Quick Facts: United States, 2018. The United States Census Bureau. U.S. Department of Commerce. Accessed 11/17/2019. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/IPE120218.

____. “Whatever Happened to Polio: Communities.” Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Accessed 11/17/2019. https://amhistory.si.edu/polio/americanepi/communities.htm.

St. Joseph Hospital, Lorain, Ohio

Froning, Pat, et. al. “St. Francis Historical Timeline.” The Advertiser-Tribune. Tiffin: The Nutting Company. 2019. https://www.advertiser-tribune.com/news/local-news/2019/08/st-francis-historical-timeline/.

Joo, Johnny. “The Abandoned Hospital of St. Joseph Lorain, Ohio.” Architectural Afterlife: Preserving history through imagery. 2018. https://architecturalafterlife.com/2019/02/12/abandoned-st-joseph-hospital-ohio/.

_____. “Mercy’s Sister Carole Anne Griswold, HM, Vice President of Mission Integration, Honored at Retirement.” The Villager Newspaper. Accessed 11/17/2019.  http://www.thevillagernewspaper.com/2013/09/19/mercys-sr-carole-anne-griswold-hm-vice-president-of-mission-integration-honored-at-retirement-2/.

_____. “Timeline for the Sisters of St. Francis 1867-1893.” Sisters of St. Francis. Tiffin: Tiffin Franciscans. 2019. http://tiffinfranciscans.org/timeline-for-the-sisters-of-st-francis-1867-1893/.

Sisters Partnering Together for Healthcare

_____. “History.” Sisters of Bon Secours, USA. 2019. https://bonsecours.us/history/.

_____. “Mercy Health, Bon Secours to Merge.” The Business Journal. Youngstown: The Youngstown Publishing Company. February 21, 2018. https://businessjournaldaily.com/mercy-health-bon-secours-merge-hospital-systems/

_____. “More History.” Magnificat. Rocky River: Magnificat High School. 2019. https://www.magnificaths.org/magnificat-advantage/mission/more-history.

_____. “Our History.” Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. 2019. https://www.sistersofmercy.org/about-us/our-history/ .

_____. “Who We Are.” Bon Secours Mercy Health. Accessed 11/18/2019. https://bsmhealth.org/who-we-are/.

Kamensky, Kylene. “Healthcare Remains Focus of the Sisters’ Ministry.” HM Voice, Vol. 33, No. 2. Fall 2016. https://www.humilityofmary.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/2016-fall-hm-voice.pdf?sfvrsn=6a37079a_0, 8-11.

Smith, Carol Anne, HM. Phone conversation. January 8, 2020.


[1] Joanne Gardner, “Sisters of the Humility of Mary: History of HM Health Care Ministry,” (August 30, 2019), Microsoft Word document shared via email September 9, 2019.

[2] Email correspondence from Sister Joanne Gardner, HM, 11/15/2019.

[3] The information for this section is drawn primarily from The History of St. Elizabeth Health Center, Youngtown Ohio: The Evolution of Humility of Mary Health Partners’ Healing Ministry which was published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of St. Elizabeth’s.    https://issuu.com/myhmhp/docs/st._elizabeth_the_history_the_evolution

[4] _____, “Humility of Mary Sisters,” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, (Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University, 2019), https://case.edu/ech/articles/h/humility-mary-sisters.

[5] Sherman Cahal, “St. Joseph Riverside Hospital,” Abandoned, (2000-2018), http://abandonedonline.net/location/st-joseph-riverside-hospital/.

[6] Joanne Gardner, “Sisters of the Humility of Mary: History of HM Health Care Ministry,” (August 30, 2019), Microsoft Word document shared via email September 9, 2019.

[7] _____, “About Us,” Rose-Mary Center, 2019, http://www.rose-marycenter.com/about.

[8] Donna Cantlin, “Rose-Mary Center,” The Euclid Observer Vol. 3 Issue 1, (Euclid: Observer Family of Community Owned Media, February 2, 2012), http://euclidobserver.com/read/2012/02/02/rosemary-center.

[9] _____,“Rose-Mary Center,” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, (Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University, 2019), https://case.edu/ech/articles/r/rose-mary-center.

[10] Donna Cantlin, “Rose-Mary Center,” The Euclid Observer Vol. 3 Issue 1, (Euclid: Observer Family of Community Owned Media, February 2, 2012), http://euclidobserver.com/read/2012/02/02/rosemary-center.

[11] _____, “Whatever Happened to Polio? Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Accessed 11/14/2019, https://amhistory.si.edu/polio/americanepi/communities.htm.

[12] _____, “Historical National Population Estimates: July 1, 1900 – July 1, 1999,” Population Estimates Program, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau, April 11 2000, https://www.census.gov/population/estimates/nation/popclockest.txt.

[13] _____, “Whatever Happened to Polio?” Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Accessed 11/14/2019, https://amhistory.si.edu/polio/americanepi/communities.htm.

[14] Kevin Kochanek, et al, “Deaths: Final Data for 2017.” National Vital Statistics Report Volume 68 No. 9, Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_09-508.pdf. 

[15] _____,“Rose-Mary Center,” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University, 2019, https://case.edu/ech/articles/r/rose-mary-center.

[16] _____, “About Us,” Rose-Mary Center, 2019, http://www.rose-marycenter.com/about.

[17] _____, “Timeline for the Sisters of St. Francis 1867-1893,” Sisters of St. Francis, Tiffin: Tiffin Franciscans, 2019, http://tiffinfranciscans.org/timeline-for-the-sisters-of-st-francis-1867-1893/.

[18] Johnny, Joo, “The Abandoned Hospital of St. Joseph Lorain, Ohio,” Architectural Afterlife: Preserving history through imagery, 2018, https://architecturalafterlife.com/2019/02/12/abandoned-st-joseph-hospital-ohio/.

[19] Kylene Kamensky, “Healthcare Remains Focus of the Sisters’ Ministry,” HM Voice, Vol. 33, No. 2, Fall 2016, https://www.humilityofmary.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/2016-fall-hm-voice.pdf?sfvrsn=6a37079a_0, 10.

[20] _____, “Mercy’s Sister Carole Anne Griswold, HM, Vice President of Mission Integration, Honored at Retirement,” The Villager Newspaper, Accessed 11/17/2019,  http://www.thevillagernewspaper.com/2013/09/19/mercys-sr-carole-anne-griswold-hm-vice-president-of-mission-integration-honored-at-retirement-2/.

[21] Sister Carol Anne Smith, HM was instrumental in drafting this segment of the article. She reviewed drafts and offered edits for accuracy and clarity in a phone conversation on 1/8/2020 and in subsequent emails.

[22] _____, “Mercy Health, Bon Secours to Merge,” The Business Journal, Youngstown: The Youngstown Publishing Company, February 21, 2018, https://businessjournaldaily.com/mercy-health-bon-secours-merge-hospital-systems/.

[23] _____, “Who We Are,” Bon Secours Mercy Health, Accessed 11/18/2019, https://bsmhealth.org/who-we-are/.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Kylene Kamensky, “Healthcare Remains Focus of the Sisters’ Ministry,” HM Voice, Vol. 33, No. 2, Fall 2016, https://www.humilityofmary.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/2016-fall-hm-voice.pdf?sfvrsn=6a37079a_0, 8, 10.

[26] Ibid., 8.

[27] Ibid., 10.

 

Statement of Purpose
The Magnificat High School Archives exists to procure, evaluate, preserve, and provide access to materials of enduring historical value to Magnificat High School, thereby enriching scholarship about and appreciation for the school heritage and the living endowment provided by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary.

Donations
If you have artifacts you would like to donate to the Magnificat Archives, you can drop them off at the school, or you can mail them to Mary Cay Doherty, Archivist, Magnificat High School, 20770 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River, OH 44116. Please include your contact information such as address, phone number and/or email address.

Contact Mary Cay Doherty, Archivist, at mdoherty@maghs.org or 440.331.1572, ext. 373 if you have questions about donations.

Archived "Archives Antics"