For a number of years now, we at Stella Niagara have been blessed by visits from representatives of St. Ann’s Hospital, Westerville, OH.  These members of the administrative, medical, foundation, and hospital staffs come to keep in touch with and learn more about their “roots” in the Sisters of St. Francis. 

As early as 1905 the sisters had been asked to take over a foundling asylum in the Columbus diocese.  Although the initial reaction of the German provincial was to refuse because the work was outside the scope of the usual charitable works done by the sisters, “the pressing need outweighed tradition, and the new apostolate was accepted.” [Archer, 1987] Beginning in 1908 the sisters faithfully served the mothers and children and later general hospital patients until the 1990s when Holy Name Province terminated its participation in the Mt. Carmel Health System.

When the visitors come, one of their highlights is a visit to the province archives where they pore over early St. Ann’s documents including the original chronicle and photographs.  During the recent visit in November, the following chronicle selections caught my eye as good material for our December ATP and, although not of the earliest time period, the photographs of later generations of St. Ann’s children celebrating Christmas testify to the continuing generosity of friends and benefactors in Columbus.

            From the “Chronicle of the St. Ann’s Infant Asylum, Columbus, Ohio”

The first Christmas Day at St. Ann’s was a most joyous one for the Sisters and their little charges.  Many generous people tried to make it a day of great rejoicing for the little homeless babies.  Mr. and Mrs. Albert Joyce who had just lost their own little child devoted the money which would have been spent on him to the Christmas treat for the infants.  A splendid tree was put up and trimmed in the Kindergarten, while all around, the tables were loaded with presents.  The Right Rev. Bishop and several priests came to the celebration on Christmas evening when the little ones recited and sang for their kind visitors, and it was quite a hard job to induce the children to leave their toys when bed-time came.  (1908)


Christmas time once more brought many delights to the little ones.  Our tree was lighted up with electric bulbs.  Right Rev. Bishop, Rev. Father Goldschmidt and Rev. Father O’Neil came to assist at the Christmastree celebration.  There were many presents donated again this year.. . .  We began the new year with fifty little ones and four patients.  (1909)