Community Dedicates Memorial for Founders’ Circle
The Sisters of Charity Community dedicated the newly created memorial honoring the seven Sisters buried in the Founders’ Circle of the Motherhouse cemetery on Wednesday, June 5. The plaque reads: In 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Mother Seton’s American Sisters of Charity, this Founders’ Circle was created. At that time the graves of the original seven members of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati were relocated here. N.B. Nashville Bishop Thomas Byrne (1841-1923) was a long-time chaplain and friend of the Sisters of Charity. At his request he was buried in this cemetery. His niece, S. Mary Alexine Byrne (1868-1965) is also interred here.
Community history accounts that in 1852 Sisters missioned to Cincinnati learned that their superiors in Emmitsburg, Maryland, had arranged to affiliate their community with the French Daughters of Charity. Seven Sisters, under the leadership of the local superior, S. Margaret George, refused to participate in this change since they felt that it violated Elizabeth Seton’s vision for the community. With the encouragement and assistance of Archbishop John Purcell, they formed the diocesan community of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati on March 25, 1852.
Those Sisters were: Mother Margaret George, a courageous defender and faithful devotee of Elizabeth Seton’s vision for the American Sisters of Charity; S. Anthony O’Connell, a creative nurse and hospital administrator who demonstrated selfless devotion to the most downtrodden; S. Sophia Gillmeyer, whose humility and simplicity were special characteristics as she tended the sick and the orphan; S. Antonia McCaffrey, a humble and meek Sister of Charity who served faithfully over many years; Mother Josephine Harvey, a visionary leader devoted to planning and expanding the mission to the West and to Greensburg; S. Gonzalva Dougherty, a courageous lover of the charism – simple, devoted and faithful to the orphans; and Mother Regina Mattingly, a devoted educator, lover of books, solicitous and caring leader who led the way in many new ventures.
Let us pray:
God of our Founding, We recognize the deep connection of mission and heart rooted in the founding inspiration of these seven Sisters of Charity. It was their Spirit-filled courage and vision that began what we know and celebrate today. We ask that you nurture in each of us a deepened sense of our shared history, being ever grateful for your sustaining providence. Amen.