Spiritual Life

What makes a community like St. Joseph Senior Living Catholic? Sense of mission and being a part of the healing ministry of Jesus. Our purpose and mission is to serve the highest interests of the residents by following in the footsteps of Jesus in seeking to heal and care for the whole person. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

We promote the values of St. Joseph Senior Living: compassion, respect, integrity, and commitment. Our core belief is that each person we serve has been made in the image of God and we hold sacred the dignity of all life. We evaluate our employees not only on their job performance but on how they live these values at work.

Catholic care communities do not just serve a Catholic population. About 50% of our residents have other faith backgrounds and we are called to serve their spiritual needs too.

Pastoral Ministry is another way to distinguish a Catholic community. We are blessed to have Mass regularly. We give attention to and offer other religious services too. We pay particular attention to the resident and their family when the resident is at the end of their life. Praying with them, offering them the anointing of the sick or contacting their minister.

St. Joseph cares for the employee by offering a living wage and benefits. Employees are valued for their contributions to quality and performance improvement.

People request to come to St. Joseph’s for a short stay or to live out their lives, and families bring their loved ones here due to the care and service that we provide. We see residents who may have come to us for a rehabilitation stay choose to reside in another area of campus. We encourage residents to contribute to their care plan goals.

At St. Joseph Senior Living, we care for the whole person: body, mind, and spirit – in the healing ministry of Jesus.

A Brief History of the Founding of St. Joseph Hospice

In the Spring of 1926, a small group of young Sisters left Germany by steamship bound for a missionary calling. After 13 days, they arrived in New York City then traveled to St. Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland, where Bishop Joseph Schrembs had requested them to care for the domestic needs of the professors and seminarians and start a mission elsewhere.

The following day, Sister Borgia Krieg and Sister Juliana Merkert went on to Louisville to start the mission, a rest home for the aged. The sisters were given a nearly 100-year-old building that had been empty for more than a year. Pipes had burst causing water damage, windows were broken, and the building was infested with rats and bats. The sisters attended Mass across the street at St. Louis Church meeting the parishioners of Louisville. When their new friends saw the conditions inside of the building, they urged the Sisters to either move in with them or return to Cleveland. Three weeks later the Sisters returned to Cleveland. One year later, they came back to see that the renovations they had envisioned were complete and the Hospice was dedicated in June 1927.

The poor and elderly began to come. Many without means. Two years later the Great Depression made conditions more difficult often leaving only rice for themselves and the residents; often the Sisters went to bed hungry. Townspeople assisted when they could, and when the farmers brought fruit and vegetables, the Sisters were busy canning the surplus for the winter.

More Sisters came from Germany and in 1940 the first American joined the order, taking her first vows in Louisville.

Much was happening in Germany that directly affected the Sisters. Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party plunged the county into war, and began to persecute not only the Jewish citizens, but Catholics as well. By 1936, disallowed any citizen to leave Germany. A total of 29 Sisters had come, and they were the last. Hitler recalled the country’s citizens. The Provincial Mother at St. Trudperts was forced to order her Sisters back, putting the Sisters in a precarious position. If they did not return, they felt that they were disobedient to their vow. They sought advice from the Bishop who was aware of the dangerous situation in Germany, and he advised them not to go. Eventually they presented the problem to the Vatican. The General Mother House in France was contacted, and the American Sisters received permission from St. Marc’s in Alsace to establish an American Provincial House in Cleveland and remain in America.

Hard work and prayer were their refuge. When the war ended, they learned of parents who had died and brothers who had fallen in battle.

It was truly a sacrifice for these young Sisters to leave their county and give up hospital nursing to open a rest home, and at times be missioned to the Seminary or St. Joseph Retreat House and assigned to menial tasks. These Sisters set a good example – they truly lived the founding charism of the order: prayer, contemplation, and manual work. The two-fold presence of Christ in the Eucharist and in the poor calling forth from each Sister a two-fold response: Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and presence to the poor, who are inseparable from Christ.

St. Joseph Hospice was known for its’ compassionate care; the Sisters performed all the nursing and personal care. One dear sister was famous for her tireless, loving care. She had expertise in brewing herb teas, and these played a big part in the treatment regimen. Who would not feel better when this dear, petite, elderly Sister would come into your loneliness and offer you a hot cup of just the right tea for your ailment be it indigestion, kidney trouble, a bad cold, or a sore throat? There was a tea to gargle with or if you had a sore toe, there was a tea to use as a soothing soak… and these teas did miracles. There were times that her teas cured ailments for which doctors had no known cure. Her conviction and her love went right to the heart.

The first American Sister to be assigned as Superior and Administrator was Sr. Monica Bellinger in 1968. It did not take her long to realize where changes needed to be made. She relieved the older sisters of their 10-hour shifts and hired an R.N. to relieve the day nursing Sister, Sr. Maxentia, of some of her duties. Sister Monica worked closely with Catholic Charities and signed the controversial Title VI which stated that the Hospice would take residents of any race, color, or creed. This in conscience was the right thing to do and it entitled the Hospice to Medicaid funds. Of course, this brought more government regulations and in 1973, a sprinkler system and a wider hallway in the most recent addition were required.

The Provincial Superior in Cleveland considered bringing the Sisters back to Cleveland believing the Hospice would close. However, Father Don Bank, Director of Catholic Charities, had faith in the Sisters of St. Joseph Hospice, and we found a way to remain.

It is difficult to find words to express our gratitude, first to our dear Lord and God for all the blessings he has showered upon us… he sends us good, caring employees who are vital for the good reputation that we enjoy. He has given us growth with first the Care Center, then the Assisted Residence and Independent Living.

So many of the aged and sick have found loving care here. It is truly a privilege to be a part of it all. We have had the support of the community – and God’s blessings. We thank God for blessing our work, we thank the people of Louisville and of all the Stark County area, the Youngstown Diocese, and most of all we thank God for our courageous Founding Sisters.

Excerpts of a speech given by Sister Mary Welch, SJSM, March 17, 2002, The Alsatian at St. Joseph Care Center, 2300 Reno Dr. Louisville, OH on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the founding by the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Mark. *