(O’FALLON, IL) – National Catholic Sisters Week was launched in 2014 as an official component of National Women History’s Month, which runs through March. The week is intended to raise awareness of the profound impact of women religious and, in particular, to connect them with young women through a myriad of cross-country events held March 8-14.
This week is intended to honor the nation’s 47,170 Catholic sisters and all who have gone before – founders of schools and hospitals, artists and activists, leaders and spiritual guides for all walks of life.
To celebrate National Catholic Safety Week at the new HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon, employees were encouraged to submit stories and words of thanks to the many Hospital Sisters who continue to support our ministries through serving on various boards and by simply keeping the thousands of colleagues, patients and communities in their thoughts and prayers.
Within the hospital walls, Sister Laura Northcraft, SSND, ministers to patients as a chaplain. Sr. Northcraft has been with St. Elizabeth’s since January 2016.
Originally from Quincy, Illinois, Sister Northcraft attended Catholic schools. She grew up in a loving, religious household with five of her siblings. Following high school graduation, Sister was initially called to be a missionary. However, her path changed: Sister felt called to do the work of God in another form. In 1962 she joined the School Sisters of Notre Dame community. She believes that “the greatest joy of a Christian is to know her life serves.”
She attended Notre Dame College in St. Louis, Missouri and after graduation, Sister Northcraft worked as a Catholic school teacher and as a librarian. The School Sisters of Notre Dame emphasized education for women in order to enable individuals to be the best they could be. Following Vatican II over 50 years ago, the Notre Dame Sisters shifted their focus to a broader sense of education for all. This shift mirrored Vatican’s ideals of relating to the larger society.
In 1992, she studied clinical pastoral education (CPE) and become a chaplain and was called to work in spiritual care. She felt the need to enter into spiritual care because of personal experiences with family members. Her desire was “to help those in a vulnerable point in their journey.” Through her job as a chaplain, Sister is able to relate to patients as well as their families. She looks past their illness and connects with them on a more personal level.
Sister Northcraft served at two other hospitals, one of which was a HSHS sister hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital in Streator, Illinois.
When Sister is not ministering to patients, she can be heard reading the newspaper for MindsEye. This radio station is specific for blind individuals and allows them to listen to the newspaper. In addition, she helps at the development office for the School Sisters of Notre Dame Province of Africa. Sister was able to participate in rewarding mission trips to Honduras, Guatemala, and Haiti during the summers.
According Sister Northcraft, one of her greatest joys is “discovering, reverencing, and tending the spirit of another person.”
HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital was founded by the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Today, the mission of the founding sisters, to provide care for the sick and needy with a spirit of respect, care, competence and joy, continues.
Please join St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in celebrating and honoring Catholic Sisters across the country and in our communities.