National Catholic Sisters Week – Sister Mary Stella Simpson

Sr. Mary Stella Simpson (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Sr. Mary Stella Simpson (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

In 1967, at the request of the American Nurses Association, Sr. Mary Stella Simpson moved to Mound Bayou, an African-American community in Mississippi. As a nurse-midwife, her ministry was providing care and education to young mothers. Her work was part of a comprehensive health center which served a 500 square-mile area. While in Mound Bayou, she wrote letters to her community describing her experiences. These letters were collected and published as a book titled Sister Stella’s Babies. The stories below come from that book.

I went to visit an expectant mother who lives in Duncan today … she is the mother of 12, all at home. They live in three small rooms. The children were all in school except the baby – a two-year-old. The house was cold. One gas heater in the middle room made very little heat. I was cold as I talked to the mother, and I had on boots and my all weather coat … The baby was whining, trying to cry. I picked her up and it was like holding a frozen fish. The poor little darling had on a dress – period. So I had to go get something to keep her warm. How can a country as rich as ours have so much poverty? I keep asking myself that question day after day. I could see daylight in places right through the roof and could see anything I chose through the holes in the walls.

Thursday, April 4: I saw an 11-month-old baby who was almost dead from starvation at the clinic yesterday. I have seen pictures of these little starved ones from India and Viet Name but the actual face-to-face encounter is really an experience.

Sunday, October 5: Tonight it is pouring rain, and the lightning is quite lively … There are a few home visits to make tomorrow, so I’ll have to get out my boots, raincoat and other mud gear again. Good old Mississippi! Rain and all, I love her magnolias and her poor.

1 Comment

Filed under Ministries, Social Work

One response to “National Catholic Sisters Week – Sister Mary Stella Simpson

  1. “Sister Stella’s Babies” is a wonderful read and account. The photos included in the book are so very telling. Just the mention of Sister Stella brings to mind a photo of a newborn infant sleeping safely in a dresser drawer, and a photo of Sister talking with a new mother! What a ministry this was.


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