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If you are from Stark County, Ohio, or another neighboring county, the history of Mercy Medical Center and the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine (CSA) may be familiar to you. For more than a century, the Sisters of Charity have served the people of Canton and beyond, and its members continue to care for Mercy patients, families and communities today.
As our hospital has grown over the past 100 years, so has our need for ministry partners. Currently, Mercy’s staff includes three members of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary (HM), a Catholic community now celebrating 150 years of ministry in the United States.
We are honored to have Sister Carolyn Capuano, HM, vice president of mission & ministry; Sister Patricia Flores, HM, immigrant health coordinator; and Sister Kathleen O’Donnell, HM, board-certified chaplain, helping to lead our mission outreach and pastoral care teams, and we congratulate all the HM Sisters on the longevity of their work. Through their collaboration with CSA Sisters, the HM Sisters have become a part of Mercy’s ministry and ongoing legacy in Northeast Ohio.
CSA and HM Sisters: a Shared Heritage
The history of the CSA Sisters and the HM Sisters contains many similarities.
In 1851, the CSA Sisters accepted a call from the French-born Rev. Louis Amadeus Rappe, the first bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, and journeyed to America from Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, to care for the orphans and sick of Cleveland. They helped establish Cleveland’s St. Vincent Charity Hospital in 1865 and Canton’s Mercy Hospital in 1908. Today both medical centers remain part of the Cleveland, Ohio-based Sisters of Charity Health System.
Just 324 miles (522 km) east of Boulogne-sur-Mer is the village of Dommartin-sous-Amance, France. There in the 1850s, the HM Sisters organized a school, a workroom and an orphanage specifically for women and girls.
By 1860, more than 40,000 called Cleveland home, and manufacturing and other opportunities during the American Civil War brought thousands more to not only Cleveland, but also other towns to the south. Bishop Rappe invited the Sisters of the Humility of Mary to come in 1864, originally to assist Father Louis Hoffer, a French missionary in Louisville, Ohio, who needed help ministering to his French-speaking parishioners. Bishop Rappe provided the HM Sisters with a Motherhouse 10 miles east of Youngstown, Ohio, in Pulaski, Penn. Today, the 726-acre farm and retreat and education center of Villa Maria Community Center remains an integral part of their religious community.
Like the CSA Sisters, the HM Sisters founded St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown in 1911. It is now part of the Humility of Mary Health Partners, along with St. Joseph Health Center in Warren, Ohio; St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center in Boardman, Ohio; and several other area health-care services. The HM Sisters continue to serve on the boards of directors of these facilities. They also sponsor the all-girls Magnificat High School in Rocky River and the Villa Montessori Center in Cleveland.
2014 Anniversary Events for HM Sisters
The HM Sisters began their 150th anniversary celebration in June with a prayer service at St. Louis Church in Louisville. Other upcoming events include:
- Mass at the Villa Maria Community Center in Villa Maria*, Penn., on July 20
- Prayer service at Magnificat High School in Rocky River, Ohio, on September 12
- Special presentation at Villa Maria Community Center on September 13
To learn more about the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, the Villa Maria Community Center and the 150th anniversary events, visit humilityofmary.org.
*GPS users should map to 225 Villa Marie Rd, Pulaski, PA 16143.
About the photo: In 1864, the HM Sisters brought this statue to America from their convent garden in Dommartin-sous-Amance, France.
About The Author
Cindy Hickey, Administrative Director of Public Relations and Marketing at Mercy Medical Center, began working at Mercy Medical Center in 1982 after completing her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University. She serves on the advisory board of About magazine and is a graduate of the 21st Class of Leadership Stark County.