The American Province of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis concluded their 130th anniversary celebration on July 15 with a celebration at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL.

In her remarks during the 7:30 p.m. program in the Museum’s Union Theater, Sister Joan Winkler, OSF, Provincial Superior said “Isn’t it remarkable to consider how 20 young German Sisters began what has become our healthcare ministry today? Their sacrifices, faith, and dedication to serving those in need continue to be our motivation.”

“The care given to Mrs. Lincoln is symbolic of how the Sisters and now all the women and men who serve with us bring the healing presence of Jesus to those in need and to one another. The Sisters cared for Mrs. Lincoln not because she was the President’s widow or a prominent woman, but rather because she needed them. This is our history and it is also our future. We will continue to reach out to those in need through our institutions and in doing so, will continue the healing mission of the Catholic Church in our Franciscan tradition,” Sister Joan added.

The Sisters presented two gifts to the Presidential Library and Museum that will be on permanent display and the gifts were blessed by Rev. George Lucas, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois. The first gift is a reproduction of a stained glass window from the Motherhouse that depicts the Sisters’ arrival in Springfield and also includes two medallions that honor Abraham Lincoln. It was reproduced by Brooks Art Glass, Springfield, and the frame was designed and manufactured by the Motherhouse Plant Service staff.

The second gift is a bronze sculpture titled “Healing Presence” that depicts a Sister seated at Mrs. Lincoln’s bedside and holding her hand. As she presented this gift, Sister Joan said that “Despite cultural, language, and religious differences, this Sister brought Christ’s healing presence to Mrs. Lincoln. In 1927, we still had six of the 20 pioneer Sisters living including Sister Francis who often spoke about how she took care of Mrs. Lincoln… ‘I did all that she wanted or needed all day and all night. At night, I sat on the chair and laid my head near her pillow. She could call me any time by touching me. All I was afraid of was the big, black dog, watching at all times.’ “ The bronze was created by Jeremy Wolf, Milwaukee, WI and the base was also designed and manufactured by the Motherhouse Plant Service staff.

The anniversary celebration was attended by more than 500 guests and was a fundraiser for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation and St. John’s Breadline. The Breadline began in the kitchen of St. John’s Hospital before the Depression and later moved to the location of the new Presidential Museum. It continues to serve the needy as a program of Springfield Catholic Charities.

St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System.

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