Meet a mini-grant recipient: St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Ill.

These sisters volunteer at St. Elizabeth's (from left): Sister Georgia Kampwerth, A.S.C.; Sister Rose Mathews, A.S.C.; Father Elmar Mauer, OMI; and Sister Gabrielle Rowe, A.S.C.

The staff of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Ill., will be reminded of its historic ties to women religious this March, thanks to a National Catholic Sisters Week mini-grant.

Donna Meyers, director of mission integration at St. Elizabeth’s, is coordinating a March 11 ice-cream social and a March 12 service project being funded by the NCSW grant. Both are intended to show the faces and values of Catholic sisters, a guiding force behind the hospital.  

It’s all possible because of the grant, which she was thrilled to be awarded.

“I was really excited, because we’re tight on funds, like a lot of other places,” Donna said. “Getting this grant allows all our colleagues the opportunity to get to know the sisters who are here and to celebrate the sisters who are no longer at the hospital.”

Working at St. Elizabeth’s, which is part of the Hospital Sisters Health System in Illinois and Wisconsin, isn’t just a job, Donna says. “It’s a calling.” Any opportunity to remind hospital employees of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, the hospital’s founding congregation, is a welcome one. “We are a healing ministry guided by the historic mission of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis.”

That healing ministry inspires the staff to go above and beyond, like the nurse who brought McDonald’s coffee to a patient every day – even when she wasn’t working. “Sometimes it’s as simple as walking down the hallways with someone and giving them directions, because you never know where that person is coming from or what they’re dealing with,” Donna said. “We try to help [the hospital staff] understand that that’s who we are as Franciscans. That’s how we carry on the torch that the sisters passed onto us.”

The March 11 ice-cream social funded by an NCSW mini-grant will offer hospital staff a chance to mingle with Catholic sisters in a relaxed environment. The sisters will be gifted with corsages, a gesture designed to make them feel special. Donna is also preparing display boards with information on the multiple religious communities who have a presence at the hospital, including Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, Adorers of the Blood of Christ and Notre Dame Sisters.

“I’ve found that, when people really sit down with a sister, they have a chance to get to know who they really are and connect to our mission,” Donna said. “That has a lot of value.”   

The next day, continuing with National Catholic Sisters Week, hospital employees and volunteers with join with local sisters to participate in a service project. The neighborhood clean-up is being coordinated through the city of Belleville’s Park and Recreations. It’s a simple project, but it captures the heart of women religious, who are always putting their love into action. The NCSW mini-grant will fund their clean-up equipment, including gloves and bags.

As Donna sees it, it’s all part of a beautiful mission. “We’re called to do a healing ministry, carrying for the sick and the poor through our core values of respect, care, competency and joy.” 


Editor note: An interview with Donna Myers discussing the success of their efforts was featured as the second episode of our National Catholic Sisters Week podcast Be Inspired:

About Christina Capecchi

Christina Capecchi is an award-winning journalist from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She is the author of the nationally syndicated column “Twenty Something,” which appears in more than 50 Catholic newspapers across the country. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, America, The Chicago Tribune, The Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press. She also provides contracted editing and writing services. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from Mount Mercy University.