Franciscan Sisters Called to Serve in Zanesville, OH

by Sister Julie Ann on November 1, 2008

zanesville.jpgThe book of Eccelesiasticus contains a tender passage that is a means of comfort as the world celebrates All Saints, All Souls, a kind of spiritual facebook feast of connecting and sharing with loved ones who have died and are now ever ready heavenly intercessors.

All these have gained glory in their generations, and were praised in their days…but these were men [women] of mercy, whose godly deeds have not failed…their bodies are buried in peace, and their name liveth unto generation and generation. Let the people show forth their wisdom and the Church their praise.

One of these faithful women of mercy, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mercedes Spaulding began her ministry as a teacher for fifteen years, 1912-1927. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Catholic University in 1935 and also was certified as a Medical Records Librarian that year. Sister Donna Marie Kessler, OSF, Archivist of the Franciscan community, writes:

zanesville2.jpgIn 1927 she was sent to Good Samaritan Hospital where she worked in Admissions and Medical Records for twenty-eight years. She was a perfect public relations person as a business man in Zanesville noted. He said, I believe the 75% of our patients and families know Sister personally and appreciate her kindness and sympathy in time of distress. The physicians of the community have great confidence in her ability to meet their needs and requirements.”

Sister was known for her friendly, tranquil and charitable disposition. She was accepting and had a keen and lively interest in people. She was remembered as a prayerful and good religious woman.

Today in 2008 four Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are blessed to live and serve in south eastern Ohio at Genesis Healthcare System. Learn about the good deeds of their lives and discover their unique personalities.

15 thoughts on “Franciscan Sisters Called to Serve in Zanesville, OH”

  1. Sister Bernadette Selinsky says:

    I am Sr. Bernadette Selinsky, one of the 4 sisters missioned at Good Samaritan Hospital in Zanesville, Ohio. I love it here and have been here for 12 years – but it seems like a snap of the fingers because it has gone so fast. Right now things are moving fast at the hospital. We got a new CEO (President) last year and he has done about 10 years of work in this one year. Lots of good changes are happening. I am a chaplain, and about 2 years ago we got a new Spiritual Care Director for our Department. She is moving our Department about as quickly as the CEO is moving the entire healthcare system! But all these changes are good, and it makes it a really exciting time to be ministering in this corner of God’s wonderful creation.
    Today we went to a little town next to Zanesville where the small Catholic Church was serving a homemade turkey dinner. The priest and people were so happy to see us (they don’t have sisters there any more) that they gave us our meal free! It was delicious, and the people there worked very hard at this meal. They were expecting 800 people because the last time they did this they had 765 people come. I’ll bet they easily had 800 guests because the entire time we were there the line wound all the way around the perimiter of the hall. There were easily 100 people in the line at all times, and it kept moving. Father invited us to return there to speak to their religious ed classes about our vocation as sisters. Two weeks ago I did that same thing for our youth group here at St. Nicholas Church in Zanesville – I told the story of my vocation. It was well received.
    Being this far away from my home state of Wisconsin doesn’t mean I lose touch with what is going on there. We watched the Packer game today and, although we lost in overtime, it was a close game and real exciting at the end.
    We have a wonderful community with the 4 of us here. We enjoy being together, praying, eating and playing together. People comment on how happy we seem – and we ARE happy!
    We are looking forward to returning to our Motherhouse in Wisconsin for a weekend meeting in mid-November. It is always so good to be back home. While I am there I will slip over to Green Bay to visit my 98-year-old mother who is just as precious as she can be.
    If there is anything that you would like to ask, I would be happy to respond. Just post your questions or comments. Until then, please stay happy!
    Peace, Sr. Bernadette

  2. Sarah says:

    Sister, have your Sisters always lived in the same convent in Zanesville?

  3. Sister Cyrilla Jackels OSF says:

    I am a Franciscan Sister of Manitowoc, Wisconsin but am missioned to Zanesville, Ohio as a Volunteer in Genesis Good Sam Hospital as Sponsor PRESENCE Representative that means I radiate the Happiness that I have in my heart as I minister to each and every person that I encounter, with the love that only comes from the Good God.
    This is my seventh year and know that the Sisters that have been missioned here before me have left a terrific impact on the people by their example dedication and quality of work.
    What do I do?
    I transport people to the front door-always so happy to be going home- it’s a pleasure in itself. Also I take things to the lab, as well as to the Xray dept.and also greet the people in registration and assist them to find the different areas in the hospital as needed. Come and see! I will show you around. o k?
    Only Me-Sister Cyrilla

  4. Sister Maureen Anne Shepard says:

    Hi, I’m Sr. Maureen Anne, the Director of Mission at Genesis Healthcare System. I have been her for a little over a year.

    What a joy it is to live my three other Sisters and to serve with the 3000 Genesis employees! You see, although I have “mission” in my position title, it is really all of us together who are the face of the Genesis Mission of providing compassionate, quality healthcare. In August and September all made a recommitment to the Mission.

    Recently when I was talking with Sr. Cyrilla in the hallway, one of the employees stopped and said about Sr. Cyrilla, “She spreads love.” Yes, both she and Sr. Anne who recently joined us are the spreaders of God’s love as they serve as Sister presence.

    My service focuses more on fostering the living of the Mission by the employees. New Employee Orientation, committee meetings, etc. make up part of my day.

    Also the poor and needy in the Zanesville and Muskingum and surrounding counties are a focus of my ministry through the Community Benefit Committee, Mission & Outreach Committee, and special projects. A current project, Compassion Gift Box, brings together the employees and families in need with the employees who can share their resources during this upcoming Christmas season. The generosity of the Genesis employees is tremendous. The love of the employees for their children is overwhelming.

    May our God of Compassion shower you with His blessings!

    Sr. Maureen Anne

  5. Sister Cyrilla Jackels OSF says:

    Hello! This is Sister Cyrilla once again!Just came from a breakfast sponsored by the Knights of Columbus here in Zanesville. The breakfast was delicious, however the atmosphere was the real joy,so many good people,friends and volunteers outside the break-fasting with Sisters Anne, Bernadette and Sister Maureen Anne. Then we came home to a card game, ask the others about that, Sister Anne and I were on the non-winning team. However Still surviving!Peace joy and love! Sister Cyrilla Bye Bye

  6. Sister Anne Brochtrup says:

    Greetings from Zanesville,Ohio!I was missioned here as a Sponsor Presence Representative at Genesis Health Care Center. I have only been here about a month and a half, but long enough to know the people of Zanesville are very friendly, respectful, and loving. They appreciate and love the Sisters. This is a tribute to the Sisters who were here before me. We hope to continue their work.
    The second day I was at tne center to get my TB shot I went out the wrong entrance. Yes, I was LOST! Some dear soul came to my rescue with humor and love. I did get home!!
    I have never been in Ohio so everything is new. One day without thinking I said, “We don’t do this in AMERICA!” Now it’s a joke.
    When I started to work I was at tray favors. Now I help in the surgery lounge. I talk to the people and take them to their designated rooms for consultation with their doctor. I love this, because it gives me an opportunity to share God’s love with them.
    My friends say I’m a big talker! Here they like to hear me talk because of my accent. Interesting!
    It is a joy and an experience to serve here in Ohio. I live in a lovely home with three other welcoming and fun loving Sisters. Come and see us sometime. We would love to see you. God’s blessings and love.
    Sister Anne

  7. Sister Bernadette Selinsky says:

    Dear Sarah,

    Thank you for responding to my blogging. No, our sisters have not always lived in the same house in Zanesville. I know of several other homes our our sisters have lived in since coming here in 1900. At first I believe they lived in the same large mansion which was our first hospital, called the Margaret Blue Sanitarium. Mrs. Blue had the mansion built for her ill daughter, and after her daughter died that’s where the first sisters here started the Catholic Hospital. It wasn’t long before a larger space was needed so an official hospital was built. I think the sisters lived in one section of the hospital that was built as their residence. Several additions were added to the hospital through the years and at one point some of the sisters moved into the large vacated home of one of the doctors. In 1975 our School of Nursing was closed. Some time after that (in the 70’s or 80’s) the sisters moved to the third floor of this nursing school which was right across the street from the hospital. This floor was renovated to be the sisters’ residence. That’s where the sisters were living when I came 12 years ago. It was very nice up there. Nine years ago we moved out of that building because it was going to be torn down to make room for another parking lot which was desperately needed. That’s when we moved into the home where we are now. It is lovely, an old home (about 106 years old) which has a history of its own. It is so homey and we are happy here. It has pocket doors and 4 fire places (which are all capped off). When it was renovated for us, they tried to keep the “old” look in the light fixtures that were chosen, etc. It is hard to describe its beauty and charm, but it definitely has both!
    Well, I guess I got rather wordy in answering your question, didn’t I? But it was fun reminiscing.
    Blessings and happiness to you, Sarah.
    Peace, Sr. Bernadette

  8. Sr. Helena says:


    I’m Sister Helena and I lived in Zanesville several times at Good Samaritan now Genesis. Some of the sisters at the hospital at one time also lived in a home across the street from the hospital on the corner of Forest and Ashland. It was the former home of the Booth family. This home is gone now and the area is a parking lot for the Medical Arts Building I.

    Have a good day!

  9. Greetings to all. I love reading the comments from the sisters missioned in Zanesville, the questions posed and the historical information given. Since I know each of the sisters, I can hear their voice in the words that are written. I feel that you are just “down the street” though you are quite a distance away geographically.

    Thanks for all the comments and questions. I look forward to more in the days ahead.

  10. Sister Bernadette Selinsky says:

    Hi! It’s Sr. Bernadette again, one of the Chaplains at Genesis Good Samaritan Hospital in Zanesville. Not only do I love living in Zanesville, I also love my work in the hospital. No two days are the same and things are unpredictable. To give you an example I’ll tell you about today. Today was quite a memorable but emotionally draining day when a lot of unusual things happened at the hospital. By 9 a.m. we had already had a code brown (a patient left the floor and didn’t tell anyone where they went), a code violet (a patient was becoming violent and more help was needed to calm them down), a code blue (someone had died and needed to try to be resuscitated) and – the most difficult – one of our surgery nurses died in the Emergency Room. Thankfully most of these things don’t usually happen in the same day – but today they did, and very close together. I considered it a real honor to spend part of my day in the Surgery Department supporting the employees there who were devestated by the loss of one of their own dear friends and co-workers. It was also my sacred privilege to be with the family of the surgery nurse who died, taking them to view her body, etc. It was all heart-wrenching but sacred work. On days like this it is very evident to me that no one but God can give me the strength to keep going. God is both my rock and my pillow on days like today. As the day continued on I also spent time on my “regular” floors doing more “routine” work. What helps me “recover” from the emotional intensity of a day like today? The 3 wonderful, compassionate sisters I live with, giving it all to God at Mass at the end of the day, spending private time in prayer refilling my well, and doing whatever I need to do to relax and rejuvenate. Keeping a balance is a constant challenge for me!! I thank God for my calling as a religious and for my calling as a chaplain – neither one can be beat!! My God is an awesome God!
    Sr. Bernadette

  11. Missy says:

    How did you know God wanted you to work in healthcare?

  12. Sister Bernadette Selinsky says:

    Dear Missy,

    When I was in kindergarten (55 years ago!) I had pneumonia and was in the hospital for a week. I absolutely loved that week! Either my mom or my dad came to see me every day (the other one had to stay home with the other 6 kids, there were 7 of us in our family) and every day they brought me something new to play with. That was unheard of because we had to pinch pennies and never got gifts except for our birthday and Christmas. That in itself made it a special week. Besides that, I got a dixie cup of ice cream from the nurses every day (we couldn’t afford desserts except on special occasions)and I learned how to sing “Winter Wonderland” because it was near Christmas and the nurse sang that same song when she took care of me every day. Besides that, I got a new doll when I got home because I was so good in the hospital! For a 6-year-old girl, this was heaven and I have loved hospitals ever since that experience.
    However, I was a music teacher for the first 19 years of my adult life – but I never lost my love of hospitals and how good I felt in one. I gradually began to lose interest in music and felt more and more called to work in my beloved hospitals. Before I began my profession training to become a chaplain I took a psychological test to see if I was on the right track. The results of the test showed that I needed to work with people (vs. things), I needed to be able to share my faith, and it needed to be done in a medical setting. What a greater fit than being a hospital chaplain?
    That’s the story of how I felt called to work in healthcare, and I am VERY HAPPY in it. I still use my musical talent by singing to patients that are dying and at other appropriate times, and I cantor in church. The other sisters here have very different stories to tell about how they came to work in health care, so watch for their bloggings on this topic.
    Thank you for your interest! Is there anything else you are curious about?
    Sr. Bernadette

  13. Sister Bernadette Selinsky says:

    Last evening some of us went to the interfaith Thanksgiving Service held at Immanuel United Church of Christ in downtown Zanesville. About 10 of the downtown clergy from various demonimations got together and planned/sponsored this service. There were Lutherans, United Methodists, Church of Christ, Presbyterians, Baptists and Catholics in attendance. It was lovely and so well done. Our pastor, Fr. Leo Connolly, represented our denomination well. It is good to pray with those of other faiths.

    Tomorrow for Thanksgiving we are going to join our 5 sisters in Cambridge, Ohio, for our Thanksgiving meal. We always enjoy getting together with them. Thanks be to God for our many blessings, including our challenges – which help us to grow – which is a blessing. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 🙂

  14. Jay says:

    Sisters Cyrilla Jackels and Anne Brochtrup,

    I would like to get biography of your religious service life to add to the other women from the Kaukauna area who also served a religious life.

    Thank You

  15. Mary Jo says:

    I am interested in knowing, if in the history of the hospital, there was a nun named Sr. Felicitus Davey? I grew up hearing stories of this wonderful woman who helped establish a hospital (I think in Zanesville); she happened to be godmother my grandmother. My mother is very interested in this part of our family’s history (as am I). Any information you can provide will be appreciated.

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