September 30, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady’s journey to the United States. In 1911, six courageous Sisters arrived in Pineville, Louisiana to build a sanitarium. They were headed by Mother Marie de Bethanie Crowley who did not waste a single moment when she learned their plans in Pineville would not work out.
The Sisters then moved to Monroe where St. Francis Sanitarium opened in 1913; followed by Our Lady of the Lake inBaton Rouge in 1923; Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette in 1949; and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales in 2000. The Sisters‘ Ministries also include Assumption Community Hospital in Napoleonville; Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge; two nursing homes; Elderly HUD Housing; PACE - Programs for All Inclusive Care of the Elderly; St. Anthony’s Home for HIB andf Aids patients also in Baton Rouge; a Mission in Haiti and more.
“Throughout the years more than 150 Sisters have served in various ministries in Louisiana. These courageous women have left an indelible mark on our communities and continue to do so each day as they work in our facilities in administration, nursing, pastoral care, finance, legal and education,” said John Finan, CEO of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System.
The Franciscan Missionaires of Our Lady began its ministry of taking care of God‘s people in Louisiana in 1911. Monsignor A.F. Isenberg, who was a priest from the Diocese of Lafayette, was injured in a car accident in 1945. He was so moved by the care he received at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, he subsequently persuaded the Franciscan Sisters of Calais to continue their ministry by opening a hospital in Lafayette. Four years later, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, led by Sister Marie Brendan Donegan opened its doors as a subsidiary of St. Francis Hospital on August 1, 1949 and in 1957 it transitioned to a separate corporation. Through its more than 60 year history, Sisters such as Sister Agnes Marie Fitzsimons, Sister Ann Young and Sister Theresita Crowley have helped Lourdes grow to become the healthcare leader in Acadiana, dedicated to comprehensive care and medical excellence through its healing ministry.
In 2011, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center opened its new, 45-acre, state-of-the-art hospital – the largest building project in the history of Lafayette. This new medical center houses Lourdes’ 1200 employees and over 400 active physicians. Reaffirming the Sisters’ commitment to those most in need, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center provides services such as the area’s only burn unit, school health clinic and medical/dental clinic for the uninsured and underinsured. Two of the Irish Sisters continue serving at Lourdes. Sister Betty Lyons and Sister Eileen Rowe.
The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady celebrated 100 years of Faith and Service in Louisiana with a special Mass and celebration on Wednesday, September 28 at Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette. The Most Reverend Bishop Michael Jarrel, D.D., Diocese of Lafayette, presided over the Holy Mass. A reception immediately followed after Mass.