Many memories will be celebrated Aug. 30-31 when the Sisters of St. Francis celebrate 75 years of Gospel witness in Minot.
Many stories are told and retold about the events at St. Joseph's Hospital and St. Francis School of Nursing over the years. Many people graced those doorways and lives while the Sisters of St. Francis were in Minot.
Do you remember the day that the patients were moved from the old medical wing to new rooms in the 1962 wing at St. Joseph's Hospital. Also, if the nurses could not get an intravenous started, they could always call on Sister Perpetua. Another memory is the various uses of the third floor of the student residence; it served as a surgical unit, a pediatric wing and then the mental health unit.
Connections, a magazine for Minot State University Alumni Association members, addressed the healthy of the MSU nursing program. The three students on the September 1997 cover of the magazine were part of the outreach done with the program to Rugby and Williston.
The Sisters of St. Francis operated St. Joseph’s Hospital in Minot for many years. This picture was taken in the early 1960s when the north wing, which parallels East Burdick Expressway, was opened.
Sister Mabel Meng, center front, was director of the St. Francis School of Nursing when then President Gordon Olson asked her to direct the beginning of the bachelor of science in nursing program at Minot State University, which she did for five years.
The early days
The Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, the Marycrest Franciscans, were founded in Holland in the 1835 in response to needs of children for teachers. They came to the United States in the 1880s with a settlement in Buffalo, N.Y. Their work gradually took them all across the country. In 1939 the United States was divided into three provinces for the Franciscans - the Midwest extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Buffalo remained the headquarters for the east and Redwood City, Calif., became the headquarters in the west, beyond the Rocky Mountains.
The sisters were invited to operate the Ward County Hospital Minot in 1914. They came to Minot and changed the name of the hospital to St. Joseph's Hospital. The sisters managed the hospital for nearly 90 years before they sold it and moved on to meet the other needs of people, especially the poor and marginalized.
The celebration will begin Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. at Rosehill Memorial Park, near the 13th Avenue entrance on Third Street Southeast, where some of the sisters are buried. There will be a dedication of a reflection space with a statue of St. Francis and a meditation bench. The gates at that entrance, which are generally closed, will be open that day.
On the evening of Aug. 30, there will be a jubilee dinner at The Grand, 1505 N. Broadway. The social will be at 5:30 p.m., followed by a dinner at 6 p.m. A program will follow. Reservations are required and the cost is $25. People are asked to RSVP by Aug. 25 to Shelly Weppler at 837-1726 or by email to SJCHF@minot.com or by mail to 308-2nd Ave. SW, Minot, 58701.
The event will conclude Sunday, Aug. 31, with a Jubilee Mass at 2 p.m. in St. Leo's Catholic Church, 218-1st St. SE, with the Rev. Paul Becker as the main celebrant. Becker, who now lives in Bismarck, was chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital/Uni-Med for a number of years. A reception, which is open to anyone who wishes to greet the sisters and share memories with colleagues and friends, will follow in St. Leo's Parish Hall.
Time to celebrate
The sisters are celebrating the 75 years as the Midwest Province and the 30th anniversary of the Franciscan Associate Program. The associate program is for people who want to support the work of the sisters through their prayers and good works. The group gathers regularly to pray and study the Franciscan charism.
The Sisters of St. Francis will celebrate 75 years of Gospel witness in Minot on Aug. 30-31. Former employees, patients, auxiliary members, board members, graduates from both St. Francis School of Nursing and Minot State, and faculty members, families and friends are invited to celebrate with the sisters.
Sisters planning to attend the event are Sisters Mabel Meng, Jane Schneider, Karen McCory, Miriam Rubel and Rita Cammack. These sisters worked at St. Joseph's Hospital over the years. Meng was director of the St. Francis School of Nursing when then Minot State University President Gordon Olson asked her to direct the beginning of the bachelor of science in nursing program at MSU, which she did for five years. Schneider worked in the Pastoral Care Department, visiting, listening and praying with patients and their families. Rubel served as director of nursing services for many years. McCory also assisted in the pastoral care program. These sisters now live in Alliance, Neb. Cammack, a nurse, worked on the medical floor and served as a parish nurse. She now serves as the provincial minister for the Midwest Province in Denver.
A group of Franciscan Associates and the St. Joseph's Auxiliary continue to carry out the spirit of love and kindness exemplified by the sisters while they were in Minot.
The mission of the Sisters of St. Francis also continues through the work of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation which provides financial gifts, strengthening collaborative relationships and supporting local initiatives that impact the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of residents in Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, McLean, Mountrail, Pierce, Renville, Rolette, Sheridan, Ward and Wells counties.
The foundation also serves as a resource and catalyst to promote and stimulate voluntary financial support especially in the building of endowments that will address the long-term needs of communities in North Dakota.