Sister Leola Brown, OSF, who served at HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield from 1968 to 1997, will be celebrating her 100th birthday on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. She resides at St. Francis Convent, Springfield, where there will be a private celebration with the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis.

Born on April 28, 1921, in Farmersville, IL and named Ruth Monica, she is the daughter of John and Hannah (Coen) Brown. At age 14, she left her family of nine to enroll in St. Francis Convent High School in Springfield. After two years of being inspired by the Hospital Sisters’ example, she entered religious life with the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in 1937 and one year later received the religious habit and given the name Sister Leola (a choice she submitted in honor of her sister, Lela). She professed first vows on June 13, 1940.

Some of Sister Leola’s fondest memories are of her time in Litchfield. She was first assigned to St. Francis Hospital in 1968, where she served as a nurse aid for six years. 

“I was excited about beginning my service as a nurse aide in 1968 at St. Francis Hospital, Litchfield. I loved it so much and stayed for 29 years,” she has shared in the past. “It brought me joy in being with the patients and bringing them comfort – even those whom I visited and brought Holy Communion in the local nursing homes.” This came about in 1974, as she assisted Father Edwin Bloomfield in creating the hospital’s pastoral care department, where she worked for another for 23 years. 

In addition to her time ministering to patients and colleagues at the hospital, Sister Leola also taught catechism at St. Mary’s School in Litchfield, to prepare students for their First Holy Communion.

Along with serving in Litchfield, Sister Leola also dedicated over six decades of service at other HSHS locations including St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, St. Francis Convent and St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, and at two locations in Wisconsin - St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay and Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. In addition, she is the aunt of Sister Ritamary Brown, OSF, who is currently on the St. Francis Hospital Board of Directors and serves at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital.


Birthday cards can be addressed to: Sister Leola Brown, OSF, 4849 LaVerna Road, Springfield, IL 62707.

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Melissa Athmer

Manager, Marketing & Communications
HSHS Illinois
Office: (618) 234-2120, Ext. 32258

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