St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation rededicates St. Francis statue

History added to memorial of Franciscan sisters

Jill Schramm/MDN Jon Backes, past board member for St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation, presents a history of the hospital and foundation in Minot at a rededication of the St. Francis statue near gravestones of Franciscan sisters in Rosehill Memorial Park Thursday. Others who presented, from left, are Father Jadyn Nelson, board members Diane Lautt and JoAnn Linrud and foundation president Shelly Weppler.

With the addition of new plaques, a statue of St. Francis of Assisi was rededicated Thursday in Rosehill Memorial Park by the St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation board, friends and beneficiaries.

Unlike the original dedication in 2014, when the statue was held up crossing the ocean from Italy and a cut-out stood in as replacement, the blessing was delivered over the actual statue, which now includes plaques containing historical information.

The statue stands on the west side of Rosehill Memorial Park, where 20 Franciscan sisters are interred.

In 1911, four Franciscan sisters arrived in Minot from Ohio to supervise Minot’s 30-bed Northwestern Hospital, changing the name to St. Joseph’s. In 1914, St. Joseph Hospital gained sponsorship by the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity of New York.

“The arrival of the Sisters of St. Francis began a new era of caring for the community,” said Jon Backes, one of the original foundation board members. “Early chronicles revealed that the sisters were forerunners in the holistic movement. They wrote of their concerns for the whole person and the importance of meeting not only the physical needs but the emotional, psychological, social and spiritual needs as well. The sisters worked for justice and peace and transformation of society.”

Jill Schramm/MDN Father Jaydn Nelson bestows a blessing on the St. Francis statue during a rededication Thursday.

Over the years, the hospital expanded, a nursing program started and services changed with new practices and technologies.

“What remained constant, however, over the decades was the unwavering dedication of the sisters to provide for their patients in the hospital and the members of its staff. It was a legacy of caring for the community that served as the basis for the guiding principles of the St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation,” Backes said.

After 85 years of operating the hospital, the sisters sold the medical facility in 1998. To continue their mission, the sisters donated money from the sale to create the St. Joseph’s foundation, including an initial $2 million to launch the endowment fund. In its first year, the foundation made its first grant to provide defibrillators to first responders and law enforcement.

Diane Lautt, foundation chairwoman, said the foundation has $16 million in assets and has given more than $8 million in gifts over the years. About 75% of the foundation’s budget of $475,000 for grants this year will go to its Twice Blessed program of matching grants. That campaign begins just before Thanksgiving.

Lautt explained the foundation accepts gifts to its own endowment fund, but it also manages endowments for other organizations that are inviting gifts as well.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a strategic planning initiative to guide the foundation over the next three to five years was postponed. Lautt said the hope is to begin that effort in the next year or two.


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