Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul West Central Province
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With this letter official word came that indeed, yes, a new Province was being created in St. Louis, Missouri!
"The second, or Western Province, will comprise the houses in the following states: Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, California and Puerto Rico."
- Daughters of the Church, pg. 193-194, Sr. Daniel Hannefin
"Louise de Marillac, foundress of the Daughters of Charity, was chosen patroness of the provincial house, which was to be called Marillac Seminary. Father Sullivan proudly pointed out that it was the first institution in the world to bear her name."
- Daughters of the Church, pg. 195, Sr. Daniel Hannefin
July 31, 2010 will mark the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the St. Louis Province of the Daughters of Charity. But the story of the Daughters in St. Louis goes back to 1828, when Bishop Joseph Rosati requested that the Community send Sisters to St. Louis to staff a hospital. Four Sisters – Sisters Frances Xavier Love, Martina Butcher, Rebecca Dellone and Francis Regis Barrett, left St. Joseph's Provincial House in Emmitsburg, Maryland,for St. Louis on October 15, 1828. Sr. Francis Xavier kept a diary of their journey which is now in the provincial archives. In it, she records the Sisters' feelings about what they would find in their new mission.
… Traveling expenses made and arrival provided. What next? Is the house of Sisters ready? And what kind of sick; men, women, children, insane? And what servants? What doctors? And lodged, or not, in the Hospital? And the house, beddings, doctor and drugs first secured? Are victuals and everything else round the year?
But stop! Do you think that there is one of these wise items which has not been thought of before, by wiser than you? Trust, and go on. What is fifteen hundred miles to God, and has any establishment begun to prosper otherwise than by apparent destitution of means?
Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not. Amen!
A call – due call – good Sisters, ready, purest intentions, strict rules along, obedience and love. All is well, go on! He will send His angels in the way who will go before thee in the way and the Lord Himself will be to thee all in all, O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt.
The Sisters left Emmitsburg on October 15, 1828, arriving in St. Louis on November 5. The hospital they founded was originally known simply as the Sisters Hospital, but soon took the name of its principal benefactor, John Mullanphy. When Mullanphy Hospital was seriously damaged by a tornado in 1927, the Sisters built a new hospital building with a new name: DePaul Hospital. In the mid 1990s, DePaul Hospital was sold to the SSM Health Care System and it is now known as SSM DePaul Health Center.
The 19th century was marked by rapid expansion of works, both in St. Louis and around the country – New Orleans in 1830, California in 1852, Keokuk and Kansas City in the 1860s, Carville Louisiana and Dallas, Texas in the 1890s, to name a few. By the turn of the 20th century the Community had grown too large and too spread out to administer effectively from Emmitsburg. Because of this, it was decided to a second American province, to be based in St. Louis. The founding of the new Western Province was announced on July 16, 1910 by Fr. Antoine Fiat, Superior General of the Daughters of Charity, in a letter sent from Paris as you read in the quote at the top of this page.
The work of the province began on July 31, 1910, and the first headquarters for the new province was the fourth floor of St. Vincent's Hospital in St. Louis. Ground was broken for Marillac Provincial House in 1914. On September 27, 1916, the new provincial house was consecrated.