by Matt McKinney
The story of how Minnesota’s most famous hospital came to be was told in a two-part Ken Burns documentary last week, so a lot of people now know about the sisters. The lesser known partners in a vital partnership early in Mayo Clinic history, the Sisters of Saint Francis in Rochester were given their due by Burns, who toured their home, Assisi Heights, on a hill overlooking the city while making the documentary. It was Mother Mary Alfred Moes all those years ago who proposed to doctor William Worrall Mayo that they create a hospital. Mayo had a private office on Rochester’s Third Street in 1864, but after a tornado smashed into town in 1883, it was clear more was needed. The doors of Saint Marys Hospital opened in 1889. To this day, a handful of Franciscan sisters live at the hospital, available as prayer partners, receptionists and in other roles. “It was all about a handshake, and continues to be,” said Sister Mary Eliot, who worked at Saint Marys hospital for 27 years as the coordinator for Franciscan sponsorship and values. (The hospital is now known as Mayo Clinic Hospital.)
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WXOW La Crosse, Sisters of Saint Francis react to Mayo Clinic documentary
Context: The Mayo Clinic: Faith, Hope and Science tells the story of a unique medical institution that has been called a “Medical Mecca,” the “Supreme Court of Medicine,” and the “place for hope where there is no hope.” The Mayo Clinic began in 1883 as an unlikely partnership between the Sisters of Saint Francis and a country doctor named William Worrall Mayo after a devastating tornado in rural Minnesota. Since then, it has grown into an organization that treats more than a million patients a year from all 50 states and 150 countries. Executive directed by Ken Burns, The Mayo Clinic is a two-hour documentary produced and directed by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers, produced by Julie Coffman, and written by David Blistein. The film aired on PBS September 25-26, 2018. You can read more about the film here.
Contact: Kelley Luckstein