Originally located on Madison Street and Notre Dame Avenue in South Bend, Indiana, a historical marker that pays tribute to the Sisters of the Holy Cross was erected in 1965 by the Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission. That marker, which was moved this year to the campus of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, Mishawaka, Indiana, recognizes the Holy Cross sisters who served as nurses during the U.S. Civil War.
It now stands in a place of honor outside the medical center’s main entrance.
On September 9, under a bright and cloudless sky, the memorial was rededicated in a ceremony
witnessed by nearly 150 people, including Sisters of the Holy Cross, alumnae of Holy Cross School of Nursing and Saint Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, associates and other guests.
Albert Gutierrez, the medical center’s president and CEO, welcomed those present and stressed his
obligation to protect the mission and values of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who founded the hospital in 1882. Following his comments, an honor guard was presented and the crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The singing of the national anthem, led by the Loretto Choir, followed.
Before giving the invocation, Sister Ruth Marie Nickerson, Area of North America coordinator, spoke briefly about the history of the congregation’s involvement in the Civil War. In 1861, six months after the war’s outbreak, Indiana Governor Oliver Morton asked the congregation to send sisters to Kentucky to care for wounded troops. Eventually, 65 of the 160 Sisters of the Holy Cross in the United States at that time would serve as military nurses, though none of them had formal nurses training. Four of these sisters served on the Red Rover, the first Navy hospital ship, which traveled up and down the Mississippi River carrying the sick and wounded from both sides of the war to the various military hospitals. These four Holy Cross sisters have been recognized as the forerunners of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps.
“After returning from the Civil War, the sisters recognized the need for hospitals and trained nurses,
thus opening our school of nursing here and many others throughout the country,” said Rosalie Campanale, a graduate of Holy Cross School of Nursing who represented both Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Hospital School of Nursing. “This was the beginning of the long history of the congregation’s health care ministry. Mount Carmel College of Nursing [in Columbus, Ohio] and Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, continue that nursing tradition today.”
Rosalie added that in 1965, Sister M. John Francis (Hilleke), a faculty member at Holy Cross School of Nursing in South Bend, contacted Indiana Congressman John Brademas and asked for his help in having the Sisters of the Holy Cross recognized as the forerunners of the Navy Nurse Corps. On October 31, the historical marker was dedicated and placed on the street near the then Saint Joseph Hospital.
Following these introductory remarks, the rededicated historical marker was unveiled and blessed by Father Aloysius Ezenwata, MSP, supervisor of clinical pastoral education at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. At the conclusion of the program, many attended a noon Mass in the medical center’s Lady of Fatima Chapel offered for the intentions of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Image: On Monday, the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center honored Holy Cross nurses who cared for injured soldiers during the Civil War with a historical marker.