Sisters of Charity of Nazareth

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Mother Catherine Spalding

Sisters of Charity of Nazareth
Birth 1793
Death 1858


The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth was founded in 1812 near Bardstown, Kentucky when three young women responded to Bishop David's call for assistance in ministering to the needs of the people of the area. Nineteen year old Catherine Spalding was elected its first superior. The new community followed the rule of St. Vincent de Paul and their dwelling was named Nazareth. The symbol of the congregation is the pelican feeding its young from its own body. This feminine symbol of God signifies the dedication to which SCNs are called, and also their motto, "The Charity of Christ impels us." The Sisters' spiritual formation and service to their neighbors steadily expanded on the Kentucky frontier and beyond. They are now an international congregation, both in ministry and membership. They serve in 20 states in the United States, India, Nepal and Belize, Central America.

Since the beginning years of the congregation, SCNs have been involved in a variety of ministries, responding to the needs of the times. Their education ministry began in 1814 when the first school was opened. In 1832, when Catherine Spalding brought home two orphans left on the wharf in Louisville, their social work ministry began. The following year, when cholera struck, SCNs nursed victims of the disease. This was the beginning of their health care ministry. Pastoral ministry later emerged within the congregation as a distinct form of ministry after Vatican II.

Their priorities in ministry are promoting peace, promoting humanization of values, opposing racism, alleviating poverty, supporting womens' issues and supporting environmental issues. They collaborate with their Associates and others to live out these priorities.

See also Catholic Encyclopedia...


Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (S.C.N.) [CD 0500]. Established 1812 in Nazareth, Kentucky, by Reverend John Baptist David, S.S., (second bishop of Bardstown, Kentucky, 1832-1833), and cofounder Mother Catherine Spalding (1793-1858, superior 1813-1819; 1824-1831; 1838-1844; 1850-1856) to minister to Catholic families on the frontier. Simon Bruté, S.S., made a handwritten copy of the Regulations for the Society of the Sisters of Charity of America for the Nazareth community. Six sisters withdrew (1851) to establish a new congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Nashville, Tennessee, which later became the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas. This congregation became a pontifical institute (1911) and joined the Sisters of Charity Federation in 1991.




Memorial Health Care System

Opened in 1952, Memorial Hospital is fhe result of efforts by a group of Chattanooga citizens in the late 1940s to build a private, nonprofit hospital to alleviate a shortage of hospital beds and ensure healthcare excellence in the community. Under the leadership of H. Clay Evans Johnson, the Hamilton County Memorial Hospital Association conducted one of the largest fundraising campaigns in Chattanooga history to collect the $3 million needed to build and equip the new hospital.
The necessity of having someone to operate the new hospital focused attention on the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. The Sisters accepted the challenge and have operated the hospital since its opening in 1952.
At the time of its opening, Memorial Hospital had 180 beds and 35 bassinets. With improvements and expansions of its services and facilities through the years, Memorial is now licensed for 365 beds and offers a broad range of medical, surgical, diagnostic and therapeutic services on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.



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