Category Archives: Health Care

Current DC ministries – Proyecto Juan Diego, Brownsville, TX

Sister Phylis Peters, founder and director of Proyecto Juan Diego (image courtesy of Proyecto Juan Diego)

Sister Phylis Peters, founder and director of Proyecto Juan Diego (image courtesy of Proyecto Juan Diego)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proyecto Juan Diego, a nonprofit organization, was established in 2003 by Sister Phylis Peters. Its mission is to educate and empower low-income families to make healthy choices and become socially responsible members of society. This is done through various programs that promote healthcare, families, education, social and civic engagement.

Proyecto Juan Diego is located in Cameron Park, a “colonia” (unincorporated town) located near Brownsville, Texas.
This border city, located along the Rio Grande River, has served as a continuous migration route for the poor of Mexico, Central and South America.

Demographics and economics of Cameron Park include:

  • the population is 99.3% Hispanic
  • only 19.3% have graduated from high school
  • 58% live below the poverty level
  • 63% of children live below the poverty level; more than half of them will drop out
  • the average per capita income is $4,103 – that’s less than Mexico, El Salvador or Guatemala
  • the average family size is 4.8; most live in trailers or small homes
  • 53.5% unemployment rate
  • poorest community of its size (or larger) in the United States
  • #39 of the The Top 100 Poorest Places in the United States

One of the oldest and most successful programs at Proyecto Juan Diego has been the family program. Staff and trained volunteers make regular home visits and assist families for an extended period of time to help meet their health and social needs with the goal of improved outcomes for children and families. the home visitors serve as a link between the family and the services available through Proyecto Juan Diego, government programs and other resources.

Other programs include after-school tutoring, health screenings, citizenship classes, English as a Second Language classes, and stress management activities.

Although Proyecto Juan Diego serves families of all faiths, some Catholic programs, such as a summer Bible program, are offered in partnership with San Felipe de Jesus Church. The parish is located a few blocks from the center.

Residents and community leaders have also advocated for better public safety in Cameron Park. Street lights have been installed throughout the neighborhood, more roads have been paved and there is increased presence of law enforcement. Voter turnout has also increased by almost 20 percent, thanks to several outreach programs.

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World War One: Account of Charles Holden

Charles Holden, as pictured in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 3, 1918 (courtesy Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

Charles Holden, as pictured in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 3, 1918 (courtesy Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

Sister Catherine Coleman, who recorded Holden's death in her diary (used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

Sister Catherine Coleman, who recorded Holden’s death in her diary (used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While working with researchers, we often find that their research interests can help us shed additional light on the history found in our own collections. Recently we worked with a researcher who had done extensive study of Sisters’ nursing service in both the Spanish American War and World War I. To our delight, she shared with us information which filled in the gaps to a particularly moving story connected with our current exhibit, “Over There”. In her wartime diary, Sister Catherine Coleman eloquently recorded the death of a young solder who passed away in October 1918 at Base Hospital 102 in Vicenza, Italy. She wrote:

“An American boy from New York by the name of Holden died of Pneumonia. He leaves his parents and a brother and sister in New York. He was baptized before his death. When asked what message he would like to have sent to his people, he said that is a hard thing to have to talk about, and asked Sister what she would say. The subject was dropped for the present, and as he grew weaker, he was asked the second time and he said: Tell my people I have fought hard against death, but it must be. Tell them I am glad to die for my country. He was a lovely boy, just 21 yrs. Old. While in New York he posed for the Arrow collar for three years. Many remembered having seen his picture in the papers wearing the Arrow Collar. His Regiment took charge of the body. He was taken from the hospital to the cemetery. Six of the Sisters and a number of Nurses attended his funeral. His body lies at the foot of the Alps on a little mound, a very beautiful spot. He was buried with Military Honors. One of his comrades read the burial services at the grave. Sister Chrysostom wrote his mother a gave her an account of his death, also pressed one of the flowers from his grave and sent it in the letter.”

Our researcher shared with us articles from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle which provided a picture of Holden and verified his full name, age, rank, and hometown. Private Charles H. Holden, age 21, of Brooklyn, New York, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Holden. He had joined the Army as an ambulance driver. One of the articles quoted the complete text of the letter written by Sr. Chrysostum Moynahan to Holden’s parents after he died. We were pleased to see this letter, as it does not survive in our collection. It reads:

Somewhere in Italy
October 11, 1918
Mrs. Harry Holden, Brooklyn, NY

Sister Chrysostum Moynahan, Chief Nurse at Base Hospital 102 (used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

Sister Chrysostum Moynahan, Chief Nurse at Base Hospital 102 (used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

Dear Mrs. Holden and Family,
The object of this note is to tell you something of the last illness and death of your dear boy, as I am sure you will appreciate a word direct from the hospital where he passed away.

He was admitted to our base hospital on September 31 (sic) a very ill boy, having been sick with pneumonia four days previous. From the very beginning he seemed to realize that he was not going to recover. The only thing that seemed to worry him was the grief it would cause his family. He said to tell you that he loved all; parents, brother, and sister, and that he hoped to see you again. He was glad to die a soldier and for his country, and though he was most anxious to get well and fight with our boys, he was perfectly resigned to do God’s holy will.

His death on October 4 caused grief and sorrow among his comrades, who said so many lovely things about him. He was buried October 6, with all military honors. His funeral procession was formed of the officers and enlisted men of his regiment, followed by some officers and enlisted men of our unit, also six Sisters of Charity and forty nurses. Many of the inhabitants of the town also followed to pay respect to the American soldier. Some of them have passed through many bitter trials during this war, and could truly sympathize with your loss. He had many beautiful floral pieces, each design being tied with long wide streamers of our national colors.

One of the nurses who nursed him secured a piece of ribbon for you, and I took one of the flowers, which you will find enclosed. The services at the grave were performed by a minister of your own faith. After the service he spoke beautifully of your dear boy, and, judging from all that he said of him, he must certainly have been a dear good young man. Our Sister de Sales had charge of him during his illness, and he was most grateful to Sister and the nurses for any little attention he received.

Sister DeSales Loftus, who cared for Holden prior to his death (used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

Sister DeSales Loftus, who cared for Holden prior to his death (used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

Trusting that our dear Lord will give you and all his dear ones all the grace and strength necessary to bear up under this great trial our dear Master has been pleased to send you in the death of your darling boy, and with the heartfelt sympathy of the officers, sisters, and nurses of Base Hospital #102, I remain,

Yours respectfully,
Sister Chrysostom
Chief Nurse

Private Charles Holden no longer rests in the beautiful spot at the foot of the Alps that Sr. Catherine described in her diary. During World War I it was common practice for soldiers and Army nurses who died to be buried in temporary cemeteries near the battlefield or military hospital. After the war permanent sites were selected for cemeteries. Depending upon the wishes of the next of kin on record remains were either sent back to the US or re-interred in a permanent American cemetery. Today, Holden’s grave can be found in the American Cemetery at Suresne, France.

“Over There” is on display in the Provincial Archives through October 30.

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Throwback Thursday – St. Mary’s Hospital Evansville, 1956

For Throwback Thursday, we present a series of pictures from St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville. In 1956 the Sisters moved into a new and expanded St. Mary’s, a process which required the efforts of Sisters, hospital staff, students from the St. Mary’s School of Nursing, a large number of lay workers, a fleet of moving vans, and Indiana Civil Defense personnel to provide security and direct traffic. In addition to beds, furniture, and equipment such as operating tables and x-ray machines, 97 patients were moved from the old hospital to the new. The local media reported that moving the patients was accomplished in under 2 hours and went “like clockwork”.

All images are used with permission of the Provincial Archives.

Workers gather outside the old St. Mary's Hospital prior to the start of the move

Workers gather outside the old St. Mary’s Hospital prior to the start of the move

Moving vans driving through the streets of Evansville, on their way to the new St. Mary's Hospital

Moving vans driving through the streets of Evansville, on their way to the new St. Mary’s Hospital

Story about the move from the Evansville PRESS.

Story about the move from the Evansville PRESS.

Sr. Justina Morgan, administrator of St. Mary's, addresses the workers following the successful completion of the move.

Sr. Justina Morgan, administrator of St. Mary’s, addresses the workers following the successful completion of the move.

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