Sisters of St Francis
[transcribed by Pat O'Dell: from Bicentennial Edition of Maryville Forum, 1976]
Sisters' Ministrations Here Began in 1894
In this Bicentennial Year the Sisters of St. Francis return to view their beginning in Nodaway County. The "pioneer" Sisters arrived in Maryville on March 28, 1894. The next day they bought a two story white frame house located adjacent to the present St Gregory's Church from the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, South Dakota. Sister Augustine Giesen was the chosen leader of the group who formed the religious community. The Sisters engaged in works of charity, teaching and caring for the poor and the ill.
Sister Augustine Giesen

By Sept 8, 1894, they had remodeled another two story dwelling into a 12-room temporary hospital to receive patients. The location of this hopsital was on the site of the present St. Gregory's School.

An article in "The Catholic Tribune," St. Joseph, Mo., of June 29, 1940, carried the following historical sketch: "Although the Sisters did not experience the vicissitudes of the early settlers, nevertheless, the pioneer work of establishing a hospital was not without its problems and difficulties, but the responsiveness of the good citizens of Maryville was encouraging.

"With the promise of the support of the community, the future success of the hospital was secured. The hospital was incorporated under the laws (of the State) of Missouri July 26, 1895, and the same year a suitable site for a permanent location was purchased and the first wing of the (original) hospital was begun. "It was completed, dedicated and opened to the public on November 20, 1895."

This early hospital was known as St. Joseph Hospital. A description of it appeared as a byline with the picture published in "The Christmas Cook Book," courtesy of Mrs Dorothy Pierce Chaves: "St. Joseph Hospital is located on the corner of State Street, convenient to all depots. It is a large three story pressed brick structure, spacious halls and rooms throughout, well lighted by day, electricity at night, and heated by hot water... Trained and experienced nurse from the St Louis hospitals are in charge of the institution." By August 1901, a necessary addition to the hospital had been completed and was in use.

This is an early photograph of the first permanent hospital building owned and operated in Maryville by the Sisters of St. Francis. This early hospital, which is the forerunner of the Sisters' present, up-to-date and very modern St. Francis Hospital, was called St. Joseph Hospital.


In the meantine some members of the young religious community had been sent to establish the first hospital in the Oklahoma Territory. The hospital there was opened on Aug 1, 1898, under the name of St. Anthony Hospital at Oklahoma City. The Sisters also staffed hospitals of the Wabash Railway Company at Moberly, Decatur, Ill., and Peru, Ind., as well as, a community hospital at Granite City, Ill. On July 8, 1915, the Sisters of St Francis opened St Elizabeth's Hospital, Hannibal.

In 1912, the name of St. Joseph Hospital was changed to St. Francis Hospital as a result of mailings being sent to St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Joseph. The St. Francis Hospital Training school for Nurses was established in Jun 1912. On Dec 19, 1929, a chapel and another addition was made to the expanding St. Francis Hospital. Before the month was out, the nation was in the throes of an unprecedented economic depression. The Sisters came to the aid of the indigent by establishing bread lines and soup kitchens to assist the many who queued up daily to their doors. Those who asked for food were not refused. From 1923 to 1959 some Sisters of St. Francis staffed the Catholic childrens' orphanges in St. Joseph. The group estalished a hospital in Nebraska City, Neb. in 1927. Their works of mercy and charity have been many and varied in the areas of health care, education, and religious expression.

In 1948 the Motherhouse of the Sisters was moved from St Francis Hospital to Mount Alverno Convent, east of the city. Retreats for women were sponsored at Mount Alverno on a regular basis for several years.

Mount Alverno Academy, a highschool for girls, began with the freshman class in 1960. It was continued until the end of the 1970-71 term. On May 27, 1968, ground breaking ceremonies were conducted for the new St. Francis Hospital on South U.S. 71. with the support of the entire Maryville community working with the Sisters, 1970 marked the opening of a new era in hospital care. In 1972, the skilled nursing facility was completed as an addition to the general hospital.

It was Thomas Jefferson who said: "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." This is not the end--may the accomplishments of the past serve as an indication of greater growth and progress.

Reaffirming their commitment to the mission of healing, the Sisters of St Francis adopted a revised philosophy of health care in 1973 to reassert their striving toward the advancement of health and the promotion of life...

The Sisters acknowledge the dignity and freedom of persons and dedicate their corporate service to the principles of equal opportunity and social justice. The primary concern of each health care facility is the provision of total patient care demonstrated by regard for the spiritual, emotional and physical welfare of all in need.

Mutual availability, support and dialogue are recognized as necessary tools in the achievement of health care for the people served by the institutions of the Sisters of St. Francis. These statements reflect the moral and social principles that have been promoted by the Franciscan religious community since its founding in 1894. The philosophy has been updated to witness to the social teachings of the Christian community and the Sisters' evolving concept of it.

Sister Rosanna M. Carter, Superior General of the Sisters of St. Francis has summarized the philosophy very well in saying: "We now, as in the past stand ready to meet the challenges of the future as we strive toward the advancement of health and the promotion of life."