Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
I was born August 4, 1922 in Whiting, Indiana and after high school, I took a job as a secretary. In 1941 while my friends were signing up to help in the war effort, I thought that I should serve the Lord and so I accepted an invitation to join a friend on a retreat. During this retreat I asked the Franciscan Friar if he thought that I had a religious vocation and he suggested that I visit a “nice Franciscan group in Springfield, Illinois.” The visit with the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis and their Motherhouse made an impression and it really seemed like home. After much discernment, I entered this Community in 1943 and I expressed a preference to do secretarial work.
Despite my lack of interest in being a nurse, I was informed that I would attend St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing and I remember praying “Well Lord, if this is what you want you’re just going to have to help me.” God had other plans for me as I was told that I would attend Fontbonne College (St. Louis, Missouri) and earn a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition. I served as a dietitian at Sacred Heart Hospital (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital (Belleville, Illinois) along with later managing the dietary department at St. Mary’s Hospital (Decatur, Illinois). God’s plan then led me to hold responsibilities as administrator at St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital (Effingham, Illinois) and St. Mary’s Hospital (Decatur). I also served on my Community’s leadership team followed by being elected as Provincial Superior from 1973-79.
Throughout my religious life, I placed myself at the disposition of my Community to devote my life to God and the service of His people. The path that God paved for me was something that most women, including those not in Religious Life, could not imagine possible. On January 1, 1979, I became one of the first women CEOs of a large corporation as my leadership team and I founded Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) – a Catholic health care system among only three others in the United States previously founded by religious communities. I was named Executive Vice President followed by serving as President from 1980-1989. It was during this time that I earned a master’s degree in Administrative Sciences from Notre Dame University.
Since we Sisters never retire, I have served as the Motherhouse Librarian and translated German letters into English. Prayer has been and continues to be a priority for me daily. This year I will observe my 96th birthday and it offers me the opportunity to revisit the importance of being open to God and where His people may be called. We should strive to develop a greater love with our neighbor and in doing so, will share our love with the Lord.