Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sister Mary Lou Durbin, OSF

I was born on March 1, 1937, in Ramsey, Illinois to Bernard and Mary E. (Miller) Durbin and named Mary Louise. Prayer was an important part of our family of five, especially amid challenges. In 1942, my mother was a patient for several months at the St. John’s Tuberculosis Sanitarium, Springfield, Illinois - on the grounds of the Hospital Sisters’ Motherhouse. Because she was in isolation, we waved to her from the hillside outside her room and we were comforted that she was cared for by the Sisters and visited by her sister, Sister Agnesine Miller (1907-1999). Another challenging time was when I was in the 6th grade and we moved to Golden, Colorado. I knew that I wanted to join the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis and I feared that moving to Colorado would pose some challenges. Fortunately, my parents encouraged me to write to the Sisters and I prayed that I would be accepted into their Aspirant School at the Motherhouse. My prayers were answered and I began at the school in 1951. After three years of high school education at the Aspirant School, I entered the Congregation on September 8, 1954, and professed First Vows on June 13, 1957.

Answering the call to religious life has been a blessing. I enjoyed my work as a nurse and I strived to encourage others to choose to be happy in life. While I faced challenges, God was always with me and blessed me with the gift of joyfulness and adaptability – this experience was also something I shared with those who struggled. One of my hobbies was playing the violin and I did it for years. I prayed that my music brought joy to others.

I am a 1962 graduate of St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, Springfield, and I completed post-graduate studies in obstetrics at St. John’s Hospital in 1971. I also received a bachelor’s degree from Sangamon State University, Springfield, in 1986. I served as a nurse in our hospitals in Springfield, Litchfield, and Highland, Illinois; and Sheboygan and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; along with assignments at St. Francis Convent, Springfield, and nursing homes in the Chicago area.