N.Y. Dominicans’ vocation: Provide free care to terminally ill

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Friday 19, August 2011 | Category:   Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

“We can’t cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” Those were the words of Rose Hawthorne, later Sister Mary Alfonsa, O.P., a daughter of the great American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who in 1896 went to the slums of New York to care for poverty-stricken cancer sufferers, where she was soon joined by the young Alice Huber.

DOMINICAN SISTERS of Hawthorne pray
at a new Rose Hill Home facility dedication

Those beginnings evolved into a religious community—the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne—and in 1901 the Rosary Hill Home north of New York City. Today the home is a 72-bed skilled nursing facility dedicated to providing palliative care to persons afflicted with incurable cancer who cannot afford to pay for care. No payment of any kind is accepted from patients, their families, or the government. Present-day sisters still provide direct care for the residents.

"If you have to be terminal, this is the place to come," one resident told Catholic News Service. "It's the most unusual place I've ever been. You're not conscious of people being ill here. We all have cancer and we're all terminal, but it's serene and there are lots of moments of fun and laughter," she said. "The care is done with love and . . . . the women who care for you gave up their lives for this work and it's their vocation."

Reprinted with permission from PrepareTheWord.com. ©TrueQuest Communications.




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