By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – On April 15, a small group gathered near the St. Dominic Medical Mall building, close to the northeast corner of the parking garage to mark a significant moment in history – the hospital’s 75th anniversary. As has been done on previous milestone anniversaries, St. Dominic’s planted a white oak, the state tree of Illinois, on its campus in honor of the founding Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois. At the same time in Springfield and in Baton Rouge at the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady convent, magnolia trees were planted to signify the shared mission and ministry with St. Dominic Health Services.
“The significance of today is to recall our roots, the dedication and the sacrifices of those early sisters. [And] the foundation that they laid for a successful ministry,” said Sister Karina Dickey, O.P., vice president of mission integration.
St. Dominic Hospital traces its history to 1946, when the Dominican Sisters of Springfield purchased the Jackson Infirmary in the center of the city of Jackson on Amite Street. The infirmary was the foundation for a health system that today includes the acute care hospital, a continuing care community, and a full range of outpatient and community services.
“Today creates a great length all the way back to Bishop Gerow when in the mid-1940s … [he] invited the sisters to come begin this ministry, which is just so very special. Here we are 75 years later and Catholic healthcare throughout the central region of Mississippi is just blossoming. I’m in a way representing that line of bishops going back to Bishop Gerow, Bishop Brunini, Bishop Houck, Bishop Latino and myself. It is an honor really to be here in their names, but also be with the sisters here, who are just a remarkable presence of our Catholic faith in many ways, especially healthcare,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz.
At the simultaneously magnolia tree planting ceremony in Springfield, Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, O.P., the prioress general of the Springfield Dominican Sisters, said that the sisters were gathered with “deep gratitude in their hearts,” at the planting of the 75th anniversary magnolia.
“For 75 years our sisters have co-created God’s mission in Jackson, Mississippi. … For all of you who have served in God’s mission at St. Dominic’s, those that are here, those that are with our God, and for those who will come in our future, we take this time of prayer with deep gratitude for the abundance of God who is with us.”
Healthcare is truly a vehicle for lifting people up for St. Dominic Health Services. Sister Karina said, “Healthcare is the method, not the end of what we are about. Because we are here to minister to the human spirit, not just the human body.”
(St. Dominic Health Services is sponsored by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, and is a part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. St. Dominic Health Services, Inc. is the parent company for a large group of subsidiary organizations and programs dedicated to providing compassionate care and hope as a healing ministry. These include St. Dominic Hospital, the Community Health Clinic, St. Dominic Medical Associates (physician network), New Directions for Over 55, MEA Clinics, The Club at St. Dominic’s, the School Nurse Program, St. Dominic Health Services Foundation, St. Catherine’s Village and Care-A-Van. St. Dominic Behavior Health Services will be celebrating their 50th anniversary on Friday, May 14. )