In 1829, four Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg, Maryland traveled 15 days by stage coach to Cincinnati, Ohio at the request of the Diocese’s first bishop, Edward Fenwick. The sisters opened St. Peter’s Girl’s Orphan Asylum and School.
Cincinnati experienced serious cholera epidemics in 1832-33 and in the summer of 1849. The Sisters responded by providing health care and by caring for the suddenly increased numbers of orphans. In addition to the school and orphanage, they were involved in the “Mary and Martha Society” to visit the sick.
After superiors at Emmitsburg decided in 1850 to establish formal affiliation with the Daughters of Charity based in France, seven Sisters in Cincinnati, including Superior Margaret Cecilia Farrell George voted to decline affiliation. The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati became an independent diocesan order. Soon after foundation of the diocesan community, the Sisters opened an orphanage for boys.
In 1852, Archbishop John Purcell recognized the need for a hospital that would provide care to people who couldn’t afford medical treatment. He bought a 21-bed hospital and turned it over to the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. It was the first private hospital in Cincinnati.
Immediately following the Civil War, four sisters went to Santa Fe to open St. Vincent’s, the first hospital in the New Mexico Territory. As the community continued to grow it was able to offer assistance in the establishment of two additional branches of Sisters of Charity: the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth at Convent Station, New Jersey (1859), and the Sisters of Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pennsylvania (1870).
In the 1920s the community decided to change its status from a diocesan to a papal community. This led to the adoption of new Constitutions.
Currently, 339 members of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati serve in 28 U.S. dioceses (15 states) as well as Mexico, Guatemala, and the West Indies. Ministries include education, health care, retreat work, parish, social work, ministry of prayer and congregational service. The congregation also sponsors the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Bayley Place, a continuing care community.
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