International Roots of Our Health System

Jun 1, 2022 | Mission

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Our health system was founded by immigrant missionaries who traveled from France, to Louisiana. 

In 1911, these six brave women, devoted to care of the sick, traveled by steamship from France to Louisiana. During the two-week journey to the U.S., these Franciscan Sisters were led by determined Irish woman, Mother Marie de Bethanie Crowley. She was only 19.

This immigration story of our founders, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, is a big part of who we are—a Catholic healthcare organization dedicated to extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to God’s people, especially those most in need.

Franciscan Sisters

The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters have early roots in Italy, Ireland and France. Their namesake and ours, St. Francis, was born in Assisi, Italy, in 1182. The first Franciscan monastery was established in 1217 in Vezelay, France. Much later, in 1854, the headquarters were established in Calais, France.

Today our international motherhouse is located in Paris, France, and our Sisters serve in 17 countries around the globe. These include Angola, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Ethiopia, Djibouti, France, Haiti, Ireland, Macau, Madagascar, Mozambique, Portugal, South Africa, Timor, Sao Tome e Principe and the U.S.

Dominican Sisters

In 2019, sponsorship of St. Dominic Health Services transitioned to FMOLHS from the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL. Two of the six founders of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield were immigrants: Sister Josephine Meagher immigrated from Ireland, and Sister Rachel Conway immigrated from Montreal, Canada.

Nine of the eleven founding sisters and the Mother General. Taken in Springfield, Illinois, where they received their mission crosses prior to coming to Jackson, Mississippi.

The Springfield Dominicans are an American foundation, having origins from the first community of U.S. Dominican Sisters at St. Catherine, Kentucky, in 1822.

Sisters Today

In addition to the first Sisters who traveled from France to Monroe, many of our Sisters have immigrated to the U.S.  

Back Row, left to right: Sr. Lilian Lynch, Sr. Uyen Vu, Sr. Martha Ann Abshire, Sr. Ann Catherine Nguyen, Sr. Helen Cahill, Sr. Eileen Rowe Front Row, left to right: Sr. Brendan Mary Ronayne, Sr. Barbara Arceneaux, Sr. Olga Trevisanut, Sr. Margarida Vasques

Our Sisters who serve in America with international roots are Sr. Brendan Mary Ronayne, Sr. Lilian Lynch, Sr. Helen Cahill and Sr. Eileen Rowe, all from Ireland; Sr. Margarida Vasques from, Portugal; Sr. Ann Catherine Nguyen, born in North Vietnam, Sr. Uyen Vu and Sr. Catherine Luu, South Vietnam.

Going Where Called

Following in the footsteps of our founders, our team members and physicians are called to provide high quality care and compassion to all people, especially those most in need. As they did, we continue to chart our course by “going where we are called.”

Interested in joining the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System team? Learn more here.

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