A Humble Beginning
"The first effective move toward the establishment of a hospital in our small town was made by a humble nun. Whenever pain is relieved, whenever an untimely death is prevented, whenever a human soul is rescued from perplexity and despair, whenever good is done in our hospital, Sister Mary Antonea merits our appreciation."
- Dr. Nicholas Schilling
Sister Mary Antonea taught music to the children of New Hampton, including the children of Dr. Nicholas Schilling. In January 1915, Sister Mary Antonea introduced Dr. Schilling to Sister Leonarda, who was President of the Servant Sisters of the Holy Ghost. Through their vision, the dream of a hospital for New Hampton was born.
Why do we celebrate on May 4th?
On May 4, 1915, Sister Leonarda and Sister Borromea met with a number of business and professional people at St. Mary's school and discussed the possibility of the Servant Sisters of the Holy Ghost building and running a hospital in New Hampton. The meeting was a fruitful one. The agreement written and signed that day was a one-page document, consisting of less than 250 words. If the citizens of New Hampton could raise $16,000 and obtain suitable land to build a hospital, the Sisters of the Holy Ghost would " commence the erection of said Hospital as soon as the plans are completed and proceed until same is completed without interruption, except as to unforeseen obstacles."
By April 21, 1916 - less than a year later - more than $15,000 had been raised.
Bricks & Mortar
The building of the hospital was completed and on January 8th, 1917, the first Sisters arrived in New Hampton to staff the hospital. Later that month, they wrote the first letter to their Sisters in Techny, describing their reception in New Hampton....
"This is the first hospital here in town. The joy and interest of the people are rather great. Young and old, poor and rich, they are all coming to see the hospital. Even five year olds are asking if they could come to see the hospital. We marvel above all at the never-ending sacrifices of the people. They collected money for the last five years, and now since we are here the people's zeal is like a new awakening. Now they can bring the sick to their own hospital, and all sacrifices have become easy for them. "
"One day a five year old girl came with a one dollar bill. The following Sunday she returned to find out what the Sisters had bought with the money."
Subsequent Building Projects
1949 - Laundry was added to original structure. This addition remains today.
1967 - Our current hospital was constructed.
1979 - Health Education Center was added.
1983 - Critical Care Unit Added
1996 - Imaging Suite Added
2004 - Expansion and Renovation project completed which included:
2009 - $3.5 million construction of Mercy Family Clinic completed
Our Mission Begins
On May 4, 1915, a contract to provide a hospital in New Hampton was signed, sealing a relationship between the Sisters of the Holy Ghost and the Citizens of New Hampton and surrounding area.
Less than two years later - on January 12, 1917 - the building was formally dedicated by His Excellency the Most Reverend Archbishop Keene.
St. Joseph Community Hospital was officially opened on February 6, 1917. Sister Patricia Wegmann carried out the responsibility and duties as the first "Sister-in-Charge" or Administrator.
In 1990, the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters passed the torch of leadership of St. Joseph Community Hospital to the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Under the leadership of Mercy Health Services, St. Joseph's benefitted from being affiliated with a global organization as well as a member of a network of hospitals in North Iowa. In July 1999, St. Joseph Community Hospital officially changed its name to Mercy Medical Center - New Hampton. With the same name and mission as the other six member hospitals in Iowa, we have become stronger in our quest to serve our communities as a premier intergrated system across the state.
Service to the sick and the injured, to those being born into the world, and to those departing from this life, has continued uninterrupted from then until now. Even though significant change has occurred since we were established over 90 years ago, our humble beginnings have persevered, and rich traditions continue to be a part of the daily routine at Mercy Medical Center - New Hampton.
The Servant Sisters of the Holy Ghost
The Servant Sisters of the Holy Ghost came into being as a religious congregation on December 8, 1889 in Steyl, Holland. The first Sisters of the Holy Ghost came to the United States on May 11, 1901 under the leadership of Mother Leonarda Lentrup and settled in Techny, Illinois where they established a home for the elderly and a retreat center.
The Servant Sisters of the Holy Ghost are known today as Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters. Over the years, many of the Sisters have contributed to the ministry of the sick at St. Joseph Community Hospital.
Many of our current staff members have had the opportunity to work side by side with the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters. Friendships were formed and common experiences are fondly remembered. There are many conversations among staff, recalling days past, "When the nuns were here,..."
If you're interested in catching up with one of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, take advantage of the address listed below
- write -
Convent of the Holy Spirit
2600 Waukegan Road
Techny, Illinois 60082-0519
- or call -
On January 1, 1990 the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters passed the torch of leadership of St. Joseph Community Hospital to the Religious Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters of Mercy were founded in Dublin, Ireland in 1831 by Catherine McAuley.
"Since 1827, people have turned to Mercy for healthcare. That's when Catherine McAuley opened the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. It was a place in which care for the sick, education and shelter were offered to people in need. Joining Catherine in providing these services were many individuals committed to the same goals and values. Together, they improved the quality of life for thousands, and, in the process, built a healthcare legacy that endures today in Mercy Health Services."
- Elizabeth Mary Burns, RSM
Catherine McAuley's commitment to providing healthcare and education throughout the community is an integral part of our work today at Mercy Medical Center - New Hampton.
We Continue Our Mission
Many changes have occurred since that one page document was signed in 1915. If Dr. Schilling and Sister Leonarda could visit us today, they would discover that their dream continues. We hope they would be proud of what we have accomplished with the legacy they provided.