Hilary Ross DC and Damian of Molokai

by | Aug 14, 2012 | Daughters of Charity, Vincentian Family

Do you know any other Sisters that are famous biochemists?

Sr. Hilary Ross, DC, a humble Sister who never even went to high school, became recognized in the science industry as a pioneer. She was one of the pioneers in researching Hansen’s disease (formerly known as leprosy)

She embodied the motto of the Daughters – “Charity of Christ crucified urges us!”

“Mainly because of her facial paralysis (which slowly decreased but never went away), she could no longer be a nurse. The Daughters of Charity, instead, sent her to study pharmacy. Soon, she was sent on her first mission as a pharmacist – to Carville, Louisana to the Carville National Leprosarium, one of only two leper hospitals in the United States. It was a mission that probably terrified her family and friends, who probably thought for sure she’d catch the contagious disease. But she herself had no fear – “I just had a job to do – and I had to give God the best of what I had. He’s always been my boss, you know.”

“Her job as a pharmacist soon turned into that of a biochemist. From 1927 on, she began to publish medical studies, especially on the changes that take place when the Hansen’s bacteria enters the body. Thanks to her investigations, the world would have a greater knowledge of all the aspects of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). She, a humble Sister who never even went to high school, became recognized in the science industry as a pioneer. When an interviewer commented on her various awards and how great it was that she was now an international figure, she replied, probably with a roll of her eyes or a wave of her hand, “That’s all a lot of bosh. I just did my job as well as I could. And there were a lot of other good Sisters and people doing much better than I.

“Sister Hilary was truly inventive in her love for the poor. (After all, do you know any other Sisters that are famous biochemists?)
She was courageous.
She was a fighter.
She was strong.

“Yet, following in the footsteps of Saint Vincent de Paul, she was so humble in the face of such international fame, saying “I just did my job. Now you take Father Damien of Molakai. He’s the real hero in the fight against leprosy. I’ll have a lot to tell him when we meet in heaven!

Read the full fascinating story by Amanda Kern in her blog Drink Deeply My Daughter.

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