As Philadelphia buzzes with excitement for Pope Francis’ visit, we take a look at the historical role of religious sister nurses in providing healthcare globally.
Barbra Mann Wall, PhD, RN, FAAN
This week, Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia to participate in the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic gathering begun by Saint John Paul II in 1994. Catholics from all over the world are attending, and prominent among them will be a large contingent of Catholic sisters for whom the Pope’s message resonates for the work in which they have engaged over decades.
Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester with Martin Luther King Jr. Image courtesy of the SSJ Archives. All Rights Reserved.
Originally published in Blessings newsletter of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester. Republished with permission
March 7, 1965, was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement: the day known as Bloody Sunday when peaceful demonstrators marching from Selma to Montgomery were viciously assaulted by local police and Alabama state troopers. The injured were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital where the Sisters of St. Joseph were called to extraordinary service. Not only Sisters who were nurses, but also those who taught at St. Elizabeth’s School hurried from the convent to assist the victims. (The Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester who staffed the hospital and school had been serving in Selma since 1940.)