Sunday, April 24, 2016

Book: Who Shall Take Care of Our Sick?

Recently, I saw a reference to a 2005 book by Bernadette McCauley, Who Shall Take Care of Our Sick? Roman Catholic Sisters and the Development of Catholic Hospitals in New York City. Amazon lists copies of this book. One does not have to pay a collector's price for this slim, very informative volume.  I have read the book and continue to praise it.  Not exactly a history of the Catholic hospitals in our city, it gives clear and insightful analysis of the reasons for and practice of the hospital apostolate from 1849 until the end of the 20th century.
Several constants show up in the book.  The religious sisters ran and staffed the hospitals, and physicians chose and performed the treatments. Fund-raising was usually the responsibility of the sisters. The types of patients and ailments changed with the quickly changing world of our city. A particular decade's problems could not be answered with out-dated treatment.
The following Catholic hospitals served the people of Brooklyn:
St. Peter's, at Henry and Congress Streets, was founded in 1859-1862, through the efforts of the pastor of St. Peter's parish. The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor (established in Germany by Frances Schervier) provided administration and staff.
St. Mary's Hospital, at St. Mark's Avenue and Prospect Place, was founded by Bishop John Loughlin. Sisters of Charity (Mother  Seton's group) administered and staffed this diocesan hospital and its branch, Holy Family Hospital, Dean Street, where Mom was born.
St. Catherine's Hospital, Bushwick, was founded by Dominican Sisters from Regensburg, Germany, the same congregation that had arrived at Most Holy Trinity parish, Williamsburg, in the 1850's. Please see the seven-minute video, History of St. Catherine Hospital and Nursing School 1869-1965.
St. Cecilia's parish established a maternity hospital, which was soon turned over to the administration of nearby St. Catherine's Hospital and renamed St. Catherine's Maternity Hospital.  Please see this informative article from Brownstoner. Several friends of mine were born there.
In 2016, Brooklyn has no Catholic hospital. The sole Catholic hospital in the five boroughs is Calvary Hospital in The Bronx.

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