New statue honors founders of St. Vincent’s Hospital

New statue honors founders of St. Vincent’s Hospital
Father Augustine “Aji” Jacob, Bishop John Snyder, Philanthropist and Community Volunteer Helen Lane, Honorary Board Member and Philanthropist Robert T. “Bob” Shircliff, Carol Shircliff, Jane R. Lanier, CFRE, President and System Chief Development Officer, St.Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation and Father Leonard Chuwa, BCC, PhD

In celebration of its centennial this year, St. Vincent’s HealthCare commissioned a new statute to honor its founders, the Daughters of Charity. The unveiling of the statue, donated by local philanthropist Helen Murchison Lane, took place on Feb. 17 at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Shircliff Way.

This sculpture by artist Captain Robert I. Ramussen, USN, Ret., was commissioned to commemorate and honor the Daughters of Charity who have served Jacksonville for 100 years. (Photo courtesy of St. Vincent’s HealthCare)

This sculpture by artist Captain Robert I. Ramussen, USN, Ret., was commissioned to commemorate and honor the Daughters of Charity who have served Jacksonville for 100 years. (Photo courtesy of St. Vincent’s HealthCare)

The sculpture, by 87-year-old artist Captain Robert I. Ramussen, USN, Ret., shows a young Daughter of Charity handing a crucifix to a physician, symbolic of “passing on the Mission” of service to the sick and the poor. The child holding onto the Sister’s skirt represents all in the community who hold dear the vision and mission of the Daughters of Charity. A basket of oranges and a palm tree are nearby, representing the actual gifts given to the Daughters of Charity by the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Most Reverend Michael J. Curley, upon their arrival here in 1916.

“This is all about gratitude. Gratitude to Helen for what she has done with the beautiful piece of art for us,” said Jane R. Lanier, CFRE – President and System Chief Development Officer, St.Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation. “Gratitude to Bob and Carol Shircliff, who gave the first four Daughters of Charity. When they saw what Helen was going to do, they said ‘we’re going to help create a real entrance to St. Vincent’s for the next 100 years.’”

The Daughters of Charity were founded in 1633 France by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac to care for the sick and the poor. The first congregation of the Daughters of Charity in the United States was formed in 1850 by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Mother Seton, as she liked to be called, was elevated to sainthood in 1975, becoming the first American-born Saint. Her small company of Sisters grew to hundreds in five provinces throughout the United States. 

The Daughters of Charity came to Jacksonville from the Province of Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1916, invited by the city fathers to turn around the failing DeSoto Sanitorium in Springfield. Meeting this challenge with success, the Sisters moved the hospital to Riverside and renamed it St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Honorary Board Member Robert T. “Bob” Shircliff looks on with sculpture donor, Helen Murchison Lane, as they admired the finished bronzed memorial.

Honorary Board Member Robert T. “Bob” Shircliff looks on with sculpture donor, Helen Murchison Lane, as they admired the finished bronzed memorial.

“Carol and I are proud to have just a small part in this beautiful new presentation. It completes the welcoming entrance into St. Vincent’s facility here,” said Robert Shircliff, local philanthropist and St. Vincent’s honorary board member. “Think of the difference the Daughters of Charity have made in our community. Most of us here have been inspired by the 162 Sisters who have served here, not only inspired by their ministry, but by their commitment, their hard work and the living the faith they espoused when they arrived 100 years ago. Our city is a better place because they were all here.”

“What makes us different is how the community supports the mission, so my gratitude is to each one of you,” said Lanier in her concluding remarks. “It is all about how you helped us to deliver this compassionate care for 100 years, and 100 years to go.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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