Sister Damian Wetzel, D.C., died on April 1, 2023, at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Missouri. Sister Damian (baptized Mary Lee) was born November 18, 1931, in Biloxi, Mississippi. She was one of two girls born to Milton James and Vivian Hyacinth (Tew) Wetzel. Her father, an architect and builder, relocated his family to New Orleans when Sister was four. Years later, he would teach Sister how to read blueprints and he would become one of the architects for the Superdome.
Sister Damian entered the Daughters of Charity in Normandy, Missouri, in December 1953. Following initial formation and having earned her RN diploma from Hotel Dieu School of Nursing in New Orleans, she wasmissioned to St. Mary Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1955 to serve as a Medical/Surgical Head Nurse (1955-1957). Sister earned her B.S. in Nursing in 1959 from Marillac College in Normandy. She then was missioned to DePaul Hospital in St. Louis for orientation to become an O.R. supervisor; she served in this capacity for four years at St. Mary Hospital in Evansville, Indiana
where she helped to develop the hospital’s intensive care program. She was then missioned to Montgomery,Alabama to serve as a Nursing Instructor (1964-1967) and as Director of Nursing Service (1967-1969). In1965, while serving in Montgomery, Sister Damian was witness to the civil rights demonstrations andmarch from Selma to Montgomery led by Dr. Martin Luther King.
In 1972, after earning her MS in Health Care Administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and completing her residency at St. Vincent Medical Center in New York, N.Y., Sister Damian served as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at Tulane University in New Orleans(1972-1974). She then took on the role of Administrator in hospitals in New Orleans, and Austin and Dallas,Texas (1972- 1985). From 1985 until 1987, Sister Damian served as Senior Vice President at Daughters of Charity National Health System West Central Region in St. Louis; then, she was selected to serve as Provincial Treasurerfor the Daughters of Charity in St. Louis (1987-1999).
During her time as Treasurer, Sister coordinated the sale of the Daughters’ Provincial House and other buildings in Normandy to the University of Missouri, St. Louis. At the same time, she was coordinating theplanning and moving of the Daughters’ new business office and residences to St. Louis’s Central West Endand other locations.
Sister Damian served as manager of the Saner Trust based in Dallas, Texas; she served as the Financial Resourcefor the Ministry Task Forces at the Marillac Provincialate, and she assisted with the Sisters’ move from their residence in Carville, La., where they had served since 1896, after the last patient at the Hansen’s Disease Hospital was discharged.
For 10 years, beginning in 2004, Sister assisted her senior Sisters at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton. From 2005 to 2016, she served as an Ombudsman and Advocate for the Elderly and Disabled at Parkwood NursingHome in Maryland Heights, Missouri. She also volunteered with VOYCE, a local advocacy program strivingtoward a high quality of life for persons living in long-term care facilities. Spanning 50 years, Sister Damian served on 36 boards of directors ranging from healthcare and senior care to social service. She also served on the board of National Association of Treasurers of Religious Institutes. In 2017, Sister Damian entered the Ministry of Prayer at The Sarah Community, where she served until the time of her death.
A Wake service and Mass of Christian Burial will be held in the Marian Chapel on Thursday, April 13, 2023,followed with interment at Marillac Cemetery in Normandy. Sister Damian was preceded in death by her parents and her brother-in-law, Edwin Sullivan. She is survived by her sister, Colleen Sullivan; a nephew, Richard E. (Susan) Sullivan; two nieces, Mary Lee (Raoul) Rubio, and Karen S. (Bill) McCrossen; seven great-nieces and six great-great nieces and nephews; many friends; and her Sisters in Community.