Hospitaler Sisters come to Carter May determined to care

CHARLESTON—The Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy have come to the Carter-May Home/St. Joseph Residence to share their mission of care and compas­sion.

At the invitation of Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, the congregation established a new mission in the Lowcountry working at the as­sisted living facility run by Catholic Charities. Three sisters will live in a house provided by the Diocese of Charleston and put their vows of hos­pitality and socio-medical service to welcome use among senior citizens.

Sister Reena George, right, shares a moment with resident Mary McKay at the Carter-May Home.
Miscellany/Nicholas Pilch: Sister Reena George, right, shares a moment with resident Mary McKay at the Carter-May Home.

The Hospitaler Sisters were founded in Rome by Princess Teresa Orsini Doria Pamphili on May 16, 1821, to care for the sick. They all have specialized training in some medically related field and work as doctors, administrators, nurses or social workers.

They came to the United States in 1966, invited by Archbishop Celes­tino J. Damiano of Camden, N.J. They operated two assisted living facilities which they eventually sold, but still maintain the Villa Raffaella Community there, which is a 55-bed assisted living facility. They also have another mission in Louisiana.

The congregation owns its own hospitals, nursing homes, and as­sisted living residences in other countries, too. They describe their mission as “pouring the oil of con­solation and the wine of hope unto suffering humanity”.

Sister Leena Joseph, a registered nurse, and Sister Reena George, a trained caregiver, have been as­signed to Carter May. They will be joined by a third sister later. When they arrived in Charleston they were accompanied by Sister Theresina Thadathil, the congregation’s del­egate superior for the United States, and Sister Aurelia Damiani from Italy, one of the first Hospitalers invited to establish the congregation in this country.

Sister Theresina said that coming to this diocese was divine interven­tion because they were looking for a new mission and received a call from the bishop. They will now bring their gifts to provide spiritual renewal and support for seniors in their care.

“We promote their quality of life,” Sister Theresina said of the resi­dents. “We will help care for them and we will love them.”

That genuine affection is read­ily apparent in the way they hold hands with the people they talk to. Smiles spread easily across their faces as they speak of their work. Sister Reena is a teacher and a social worker who said she looks forward to providing comfort to people.

“I like to listen to people’s stories and discussing the things we all have to face at this stage of life,” she said.

Sister Leena said she loves caring for the whole person.

“It is very rewarding,” she said. “I am giving but am also receiving.”

Sister Theresina said many elderly are lonely and the Hospitalers are there for them.

“We offer them that confidence that they will be taken care of. They have done a lot in their lives and now it is time for us to do for them,” she said.

Janine Bauder, director of the Carter-May/St. Joseph residence, said the facility currently has 22 residents and about half are Catho­lic. In addition to filling healthcare needs, she hopes the Hospitalers will provide spiritual support.

“Having the sisters here will be an extra comfort for the residents,” Bauder said. “One of our ladies had tears in her eyes when she met them because she was transported back to her Catholic school days and happy times. So, we have already seen the benefit of their presence.”


Top photo: Miscellany/Nicholas Pilch: Sisters Reena George, Leena Joseph, Rev. Mother Theresina Thadathil, and Sister Aurelia Damiani meet with Carter May resident Mabel Caron in Charleston on Aug. 22.