Guest Post by Sister Carol Barnes
150 years ago today, on October 11th, three Sisters of Charity moved into a brownstone on East 12th Street in Manhattan in order to provide a safe haven for infants who were being abandoned during those difficult days. Initially, the Sisters expected to have 2 or 3 months to prepare their home for this purpose but within 24 hours, a faint cry alerted them to the fact that a new born girl, Sarah H., had been had been placed on their doorstep.
The community grew quickly, not just with children (126 babies were placed with the Sisters by the end of 1869), but also with wet nurses who provided nourishment for the children.
To meet the needs of the growing community, the Sisters acquired the 68th Street property which provided adequate space for the new programs which evolved: St. Anne’s Maternity Hospital, St. John’s Pediatric Hospital and St. Mary’s Maternity Residence for single pregnant women. In addition, two hospitals for tuberculosis patients, both children and adults, were opened in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. All of this was accomplished under the direction of Sr. Mary Irene Fitzgibbon, the Foundling’s first administrator, in the course of the first 25 years of its existence.
Today, The Foundling continues to expand, and in the spirit of the early sisters, responds to emerging needs, developing new ways of having a positive impact on the lives of children, youth, adults, families and communities.
Throughout these 150 years, the Sisters of Charity have continued to guard The Foundling’s Mission; currently, the Sisters of Charity Ministry Network carries out this critical responsibility through the exercise of its reserved powers.
As a representative of the Sisters of Charity, I am privileged to work with our incredible staff as we strive to integrate Mission into every aspect of The Foundling.
Learn more about The Foundling’s history: