Tuesday 07.22.2014

Daughters of Charity Say Farewell to Austin


Sister Gertrude Levy, right, shares a smile at a farewell Mass in Austin.

The following article was originally posted on the Time Warner Cable News in Austin website by Alese Underwood. View the story here.

Seton Healthcare Founders Daughters of Charity to Leave Austin

After serving Austin for more than 100 years and establishing the Seton Healthcare Family, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul–an international community of Sisters dedicated to serving the poor–are leaving the area to go where they’re more needed.

“It was a decision that was difficult to make and difficult to act on, but we know as a community of women that this was the best and right thing for us to do,” Sister Helen Brewer said.

What brought Brewer to the city all started 112 years ago when the Daughters of Charity came to Austin.

“Health care was very rudimentary,” Seton Healthcare Family Mission Communicator Carl McQueary said. “There was doctor’s clinics, there was the city-county hospital, which was an interesting place with no provision for those of Catholic faith.”

In 1902, the first five Daughters of Charity came to the region from Maryland at the request of Austin women of St. Vincent’s aid society.

“Austin in those days was considered for those back east to be kind of backwoods and kind of a backwater,” McQueary said. “And so the Daughters came and established what they call the baby of the community.”

The Daughters of Charity opened up the 42-bed Seton Infirmary more than 100 years ago. Today, the Seton Healthcare Family has three clinics, a nursing home and 14 affiliated hospitals, and it serves as the largest healthcare operator in the Austin area.

“We needed to make some difficult decisions with the number of Sisters we have called to service,” Brewer said.

While the Sisters won’t physically be in Austin anymore, the grace they’ve passed on lives in their mission.

“As they leave they’ve entrusted us with the trust that that mission will continue, and we are very, very hopeful and we are very, very honored to be given that trust,” McQueary said.

Austin isn’t the only area losing its Daughters of Charity. By this fall, nine other cities will experience the same transfer.