July 15, 2015 – From Sr. Carole Anne Griswold
We can be “humbly proud” of our founding stories! These stories inspire, motivate and give us courage and an example of what can happen when we work together for the good of all.
July, 1864 – “Shortly after their arrival in New Bedford, there was an outbreak of smallpox in New Bedford. The sisters tended the sick in their homes as they had done in France.” (Archives)
It was not long after that the sisters at Villa Maria, in cooperation with the railroad workers, provided a place to care for the workers. And after that in 1911, a hospital was established in Youngstown, St. Elizabeth’s. With lay partnership, the sisters would continue the care of the sick, reaching out to sponsor St. Joseph’s in Warren and to assume sponsorship of St. Joseph’s in Lorain.
Over time, through the leadership of our sisters, leaders of other religious congregations and deeply committed lay ministry partners, individual health care systems and hospitals, including our own, creatively initiated and effectively transformed themselves into a health care system. Today our health care ministry is integrated with Mercy Health System (formerly CHP) that collaborates daily with many others sharing the same mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus to thousands of individuals and to provide over $1 million of charity care each day to those most in need. Our ministry has become part of the largest provider of Medicaid services in the state of Ohio. Our original sisters never could have imagined how clearly and effectively the Gospel message would be proclaimed today in this way.
There was no road map for the early sisters. And there is no road map for us today. The only guides we have are the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel message which we live out through our mission, our Church teachings, the founding stories and charism of our courageous, humble and generous founders and the commitment of our sisters for over 150 years to “share Jesus’ mission of bringing more abundant life to God’s people, especially to those who are poor, by announcing the liberating message of the gospel and by the witness of [their] lives.” (HM Constitutions No 3)
On this Feast of the Humility of Mary, what is it of our founding story that inspires you?
What works are you/we doing alone now that you/we could do even more effectively by collaborating with others?
How have you/we prepared our lay partners and entrusted to them the mission that we espouse?