The Sisters of Mercy

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What the Sisters Mean to Mercy

Since its inception, Mercy Medical Center has been blessed by the service and dedication of the Sisters of Mercy. Over the years, the Sisters have served in a wide range of roles in support of the hospital and its mission. They are, without hesitation, the reason for Mercy’s past, present and future successes.

Sister Helen Amos, RSM, Executive Chair, Board of Trustees

Sister Helen AmosSister Helen Amos, RSM was named Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees of Mercy Health Services, Inc. in 1999.   She served as President and CEO of Mercy Medical Center from 1992 to 1999 and has been a member of the Mercy Board of Trustees since 1980.

Sister Helen has more than 30 years experience in the fields of education and health care administration.  After working as a teacher in Georgia, Sister Helen arrived in Baltimore to take a position as Registrar for Mount Saint Agnes College where she had earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics in 1962.  Sister would later take on administrator duties with the Sisters of Mercy of the Union and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Before coming to Mercy, Sister Helen served as President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Union in Silver Spring, Maryland from 1984 to 1991.

Sister Helen earned her Master of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame and received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from College Misericordia in Dallas, Pennsylvania, and from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Among the many accomplishments Sister Helen Amos, RSM, has received are:

  • Business Leader of the Year by Loyola University Sellinger School of Business and Management, 2014
  • The Andrew White Medal from Loyola University in Maryland, March 2008
  • The Speaker’s Medallion from the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, 2008
  • Maryland Chamber of Commerce Hall of  Fame, 2007
  • Top 50 Influential Marylanders for 2007 by The Daily Record
  • The Central Maryland Ecumenical Council’s prestigious Christian Life Award presented to individuals whose life, work and deeds have exemplified a steadfast commitment to the Christian faith, 2005
  • The Carroll Medal from Loyola University in Maryland, 2005

Sister Helen has been responsible for the development and implementation of numerous programs at Mercy, including the creation of The Center for Women’s Health & Medicine and its flagship programs in gynecologic oncology and breast cancer diagnosis and treatment; “The Woman’s Doctor” program on WBAL-TV11; and Mercy’s network of specialty and primary care physicians.

Sister Helen is a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph’s Health System of Atlanta, Georgia; St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System in Savannah, Georgia; the Sponsorship Council of the Sisters of Mercy Health System, St. Louis, Missouri; the Downtown Partnership (immediate past chair) and the Downtown Management District Authority of Baltimore City; St. Mary’s Seminary and University; Cristo Rey Jesuit High School; Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and the Board of Financial Administration of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. 

Sister Helen also serves on the board and is President of Mercy Ridge, a continuing care retirement community in Timonium, Maryland.

Sister Helen is currently the chair of the Leadership Advisory Group for Baltimore City’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. Sister Helen is dedicated to improving the quality of life of women and the community as a whole.

NEXT: The Leadership of the Sisters of Mercy ›
The Leadership of the Sisters of Mercy

Mercy Medical Center has been guided by the healing hands of the Sisters of Mercy since its inception in 1874. Their leadership and vision helps make Mercy Medical Center a valuable resource for patients, staff and the surrounding community, and we honor the Sisters of Mercy who have made a commitment to lead and serve others.

Sister Helen Amos, RSM, President & CEO

1992 to 1999
Respected visionary leader, Sister Helen transformed the modern face of Mercy by launching a Women’s Health Program which achieved national attention. She laid the groundwork for expansion of Mercy’s campus and developed regionally recognized physician programs. Honored with local, State, national and international awards, Sister Helen garnered the respect of Baltimore’s corporate and civic communities before becoming the first Sister to serve as Executive Chair of Mercy’s Board of Trustees.

Sister Mary Thomas Zinkand, RSM, President

1953 to 1959
1963 to 1992
Beloved administrator who led the hospital for 35 years, Sister Thomas left an indelible mark on the legacy of Mercy. Friend to religious leaders, governors, mayors and members of Congress and the Senate, she also was a humble presence known for walking the hospital halls each night visiting patients. Sister Thomas worked tirelessly on behalf of the Sisters’ healing ministry ensuring that people from all walks of life were welcomed at Mercy.

Sister Ruth Handren, RSM, Administrator

1959 to 1963
Sister Ruth headed Mercy during construction of the Tower Building, now part of McAuley Plaza, which opened in 1963 and helped spark the renaissance of Baltimore. Mercy remained downtown when several other hospitals abandoned the City for the suburbs.

Sister M. Celeste Weynant, RSM, Administrator

Sister Celeste recruited outstanding business leaders to join the Sisters of Mercy and hospital physicians to form Mercy’s first Advisory Board. Together, they reaffirmed Mercy’s commitment to serve the families of Baltimore on the same site where the hospital was founded in 1874.

Sister M. Veronica Daily, RSM, Administrator

1936 to 1941
1947 to 1953
Through Sister Veronica’s perseverance, the old City Welfare Buildings on St. Paul Place were purchased. Years later, these structures would be razed to become the site for the new hospital which opened in 1963. During her tenure, Sister Veronica is also credited for re-establishing the Mercy Auxiliary in 1951.

Sister M. Helen Ryan, RSM, Administrator

1930 to 1936
Sister Helen led Mercy Hospital during the Great Depression. Offering hope to the disadvantaged, the Sisters of Mercy never asked for money, but made sure the hungry were fed in bread lines behind the hospital every day. Under her watchful eye, Mercy also established its School of Medical Technology in 1932.

Sister M. Siena Delcher, RSM, Superior

1927 to 1930
Under the direction of Sister Siena, Mercy opened a modern Clinical Laboratory which aided in the rapid and accurate diagnosis of illness and disease.

Sister M. Louise McCabe, RSM, Superior

1926 to 1927
Sister Louise headed Mercy Hospital during two years of the Roaring Twenties, a time of great growth and prosperity for the City of Baltimore and its citizens.

Sister M. Thomasina O’Hara, RSM, Superior

1923 to 1926
In 1924, during the tenure of Sister Thomasina, the Sisters of Mercy celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Mercy Hospital and the Silver Anniversary of Mercy’s School of Nursing.

Sister M. Constance McHale, RSM, Superior

1917 to 1920
In 1919, Sister Constance purchased and renovated a building at Calvert and Pleasant Streets to serve as a Student Nurses’ home.

Sister M. Carmelita Hartman, RSM, Superior

1904 to 1917
Sister Carmelita was Superior when the name was changed to Mercy Hospital in 1909. She raised money to build a new hospital wing on Calvert Street which was completed in 1911.

Sister M. Nolasco McColum, RSM, Superior

1892 to 1898
Under the leadership of Sister Nolasco, the hospital establishes the only other Pasteur Institute for the treatment of rabies south of New York City.

Sister M. Imelda Burford, RSM, Superior

1889 to 1892
1898 to 1904
1920 to 1923
Sister Imelda opened the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing which enrolled its first class on December 27, 1898. She led the hospital at the time of the Great Baltimore Fire, when the Sisters provided compassionate care to injured firefighters.

Sister M. Benedicta Desmond, RSM, Superior

1883 to 1889
Sister Benedicta led the efforts to acquire the City Springs land, adjacent to the Jones Falls, where two years earlier the Sisters of Mercy arranged to have John Philip Sousa perform a benefit concert to raise money for their new hospital. Under Sister Benedicta’s direction, a new six-story building opened on December 23, 1889.

Sister M. Edward, RSM, Superior

1880 to 1883
Sister Edward led the hospital in the years following the merger of two of Baltimore’s oldest and most respected institutes for physician training, Washington University and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which both operated on the site of modern day Mercy.

Sister M. Augustine Gwynne, RSM, Superior

1874 to 1880
The first six Sisters of Mercy arrived in Baltimore on November 11, 1874 to assume control of a health dispensary on this site. With Sister Augustine Gwynne as superior, they included Sisters Gonzaga Mulhern, Borromeo Slattery, Christina Monaghan, Veronica Flaherty and Stanislaus Matthews.

NEXT: The Sisters Who Inspired the Mercy Nursing Awards ›
The Sisters Who Inspired the Mercy Nursing Awards

Mercy Medical Center promotes a culture of nursing and service excellence based on collaborative relationships, education and empowerment. Each year we recognize those nurses who demonstrate the values of Catherine McAuley in the spirit of Sisters who have served and inspired.

Nursing Leadership Award

Sister Mary ThomasIn the spirit of Sister Mary Thomas Zinkand, RSM, 1916-2003
As President of Mercy Medical Center for 35 years, Sister Mary Thomas, RSM embodied the true spirit of the Mercy RN.  Personal friend to the Mayor, Governor and Maryland’s U.S. Senators, she never forgot her nursing roots. Each night, she walked the hospital, going room by room to visit patients and making sure their needs were met. She was a humble and caring spirit who quietly modeled Mercy’s core values—dignity, hospitality, excellence, justice, stewardship, empowerment and prayer. Sister Thomas is fondly remembered as a charming and diminutive woman who was smaller than most, yet larger than life.

Compassionate Caregiver Award

Sister Mary Thecla LancasterIn the spirit of Sister Mary Thecla Lancaster, RSM, 1921-1998
Sister Thecla, RSM was often described as the epitome of what a nun and nurse should be. Shy, humble and unassuming, she had an extraordinary way of connecting with the sick and dying.  Sister Thecla was a member of Mercy’s Pastoral Care department for over 20 years, and was known for making the selfless care of others her life’s work.  Sister Thecla was quiet and compassionate…a constant comfort to Mercy’s patients and families.  She lived the Spiritual Works of Mercy which challenge us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick and give comfort to the afflicted. One of her most endearing qualities was her uncanny ability to “simply appear out of nowhere” when she was needed most.

Nurse Visionary Award

Sister DamianIn the spirit of Sister Mary Damian Faller, RSM,
Nursing education, professional growth and continual learning were lifetime passions for Sister Damian, RSM.  She helped establish the School of Nursing at the Community College of Baltimore in 1972. As an educator, she was described by the students whose lives she touched as firm, but fair.  Sister Damian believed that care and education of the poor were at the heart of keeping God in the practice of medicine. At the age of 90, years after her career in nursing education ended, Sister Damian still clung fast to her conviction for young graduates that ongoing education was vital to the provision of modern, compassionate health care. Beloved and respected, she was also adored for her quick wit and ready smile.

Community Impact Award

Sister HelenIn the spirit of Sister Helen Amos, RSM, President & CEO, 1992 to 1999
Sister Helen Amos, RSM, served as President and CEO before becoming the first Sister of Mercy to be named Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees in 1999. Known for her collaborative style, she established unique community and business partnerships to address the needs of others.  Sister Helen is widely respected in the Baltimore community, having served as Chair of the Downtown Partnership and also Chair of “The Journey Home” Baltimore City’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. Her indomitable spirit is living proof that she and her fellow Sisters of Mercy have always worked toward a brighter future…a future filled with hope and optimism that the challenges of poverty will be met with new and creative solutions.  Sister Helen has received numerous local, State, national and international awards.

NEXT: The Influence of the Sisters of Mercy ›
The Influence of the Sisters of Mercy

The success behind Mercy Medical Center lies in the vision and spirit of the Sisters of Mercy. Patients and visitors will find tangible elements of the Sisters' influence throughout our Downtown Baltimore campus. These elements are symbolic representations of Mercy’s origins, our continued progress and the hope for the future that lies ahead.

The Mercy Cross

The Mercy CrossParamount to the mission of the Sisters is the Mercy Cross. The original, designed by Catherine McAuley for the Sisters of Mercy, consisted of an ivory cross on top of an ebony cross, or a “cross upon a cross.” There was not a body on the cross and instead, Catherine challenged the Sisters to think symbolically, placing themselves on the cross with Jesus in his ultimate act of mercy for all humanity.

In the 1970s, the renewal taking place in religious life after the Second Vatican Council prompted the Sisters of Mercy to “modernize” the Mercy Cross and it has since become the official logo of the Sisters of Mercy throughout the world. The Mercy Cross can be found in many forms throughout the Mercy campus.

Laying the Foundation

Sisters of Mercy Laying Foundation BrickThe Sisters of Mercy are responsible for laying the spiritual foundation of God’s healing love in all people, and their ability to fulfill the needs of the surrounding community is evident in the physical landscape of the hospital, as well. Throughout Mercy’s history, the Sisters have been called to provide for those in need and on many occasions, this called for physical changes and new development.

Bricks from Washington University School of Medicine and College of Physicians and Surgeons are still highlighted in The Mary Catherine Bunting Center’s Skywalk Atrium. Both schools were forerunners of today’s University of Maryland School of Medicine. Mercy Medical Center is an outgrowth and clinical training hospital partner associated with all three of these medical schools.

The Skywalk Atrium also hosts the original trowel used by James Cardinal Gibbons in 1889 to lay the cornerstone of the new hospital built by the Sisters of Mercy. The trowel was used again by Lawrence Cardinal Shehan in 1963 for the new Tower building hospital.  And finally, it would be used once more in 2010 by Sister Helen Amos and Mercy President and CEO Tom Mullen to place a brick from Dublin’s House of Mercy as part of The Mary Catherine Bunting Center. The House of Mercy was the original home of the Sisters of Mercy founded in 1827, and the brick used at the entrance of The Bunting Center stands as a testament to the Sisters’ lasting work and mission as the hospital looks ahead.

History Moving Forward

Mercy Baltimore The introduction of The Mary Catherine Bunting Center in December 2010 was a significant moment in Mercy Medical Center’s history. The 20-story, $400 million facility represented Mercy’s investment in the people of the surrounding communities; once again planting roots in the City of Baltimore. However, not to be forgotten in the hope and success of the hospital’s bright future, is the origins and influence of the Sisters of Mercy.

To honor the Judeo-Christian heritage of the Sisters of Mercy, Jerusalem Limestone was chosen for the Chapel of Light, the Grand Staircase and the Main Information Desk on the Lobby level of The Mary Catherine Bunting Center.

This unique and beautiful stone was quarried and hand-carved in the Holy Land, near the town of Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev Desert in Southern Israel. Known as “Holy Stone,” Jerusalem Limestone is prized for its distinctive coloration, warm rich textures and tiny fossils which are visible throughout.           

Since biblical times, Jerusalem Limestone has been revered for its unique attributes and was even used in many of the region’s most celebrated religious structures including churches, temples and the Western Wall. In fact, to preserve the unique character of the Holy City, this limestone is required by municipal code to be used on all buildings in Jerusalem.

In addition to the Jerusalem Limestone, The Mary Catherine Bunting Center honors the Irish heritage of the Sisters of Mercy through the extensive use of Connemara marble, also known as “Verde Connemara.” Recognized as the Emerald Isle’s national gemstone, Connemara marble is named for the West Galway region in Ireland where it is found. Its distinctive color serves as a reminder of the strong connection that the Sisters of Mercy have with their origins.

Embracing this special stone as symbolic of the Sisters of Mercy’s Irish heritage, Mercy President and CEO Tom Mullen, also of Irish decent, directed that Connemara marble be used throughout The Mary Catherine Bunting Center, including the main elevator side panels, the lobby information desk and within the Mercy Cross in The Bunting Center’s cornerstone just outside the main entrance.

NEXT: The Story of Mercy ›
The Story of Mercy

Visitors entering McAuley Plaza will find beautifully handcrafted artistic interpretations of Mercy’s past and windows into the hospital’s future as they gaze on the Mercy tapestries hanging in the McAuley Lobby. These seven exquisite tapestries tell the story of the Sisters of Mercy in Baltimore and their lasting influence on Mercy Medical Center, the City and the patients who are at the heart of all we do.

Mercy Tapestries Speak to the Heart of Mercy

Sisters of Mercy TapetriesSix original tapestries in Mercy’s collection tell the wonderful stories of Mercy Medical Center’s rich history – depicting the many facets of the spiritual and healing healthcare ministry the Sisters of Mercy have provided to the citizens of Baltimore for nearly 140 years. Each tapestry is emblazoned with a pledge to our patients, their families, our staff and all visitors who are welcomed through our doors. “Courtesy. Respect. Compassion.”

The collection’s newest tapestry conveys Mercy’s move into the future, and while it retains the same intricate detail of the original six, it has a slightly different style. Each “window” in the new tapestry lets us view the bonds shared between past and future generations. The sheltering leafy border surrounds the images and the teacup motif repeated along the bottom of the tapestry recalls the wish of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, that “we greet one another with a comfortable cup of tea.” Since Catherine first uttered these words the teacup has become and enduring symbol of the hospitality of the Sisters of Mercy.

The Inspired Mercy Story

The Mercy StorybookA one-of-a-kind, hand lettered and illuminated book of Mercy was created to record, explain and preserve the history and mission of the Sisters of Mercy in Baltimore. This extraordinary hand-bound book consists of oversized, beautifully designed and illustrated handmade pages that tell the hospital’s story, values and mission through quotations, calligraphy, watercolor, photography and collage. Filled with the inspiration of the Sisters, it is a point of particular pride this work of art was conceived by Sister Aine O’Connor, a Sister of Mercy who served as Assistant to the President  for Mission at Mercy Medical Center for more than a decade.

Under her direction and with a spirited Story of Mercy committee, Sister Mary Jacque, a beloved Sister of Mercy, was the first artist to lend her skilled craftsmanship to the book. As chapters were added other Sisters took on the role of artist and creator. The first volume, now complete, culminated with renowned artist Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen incorporating the handiwork of Mercy doctors, nurses, employees and administration into his artistic interpretation of the Mercy mission and values statements.

The Story of Mercy can be viewed and enjoyed by everyone in the Skywalk Atrium of The Mary Catherine Bunting Center. The Skywalk Atrium in The Bunting Center captures a snapshot of who and what Mercy Medical Center has been and remains to those we serve – a tower of hope for patients who need the healing care inspired by the Sisters of Mercy, a hospital committed to the medical education and teaching of future doctors and nurses and a medical center that is vested in the City of Baltimore and its citizens.

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