Historical Change in Serving the Sick

No one would predict that a group of Benedictine sisters, whose roots lie in a cloistered community of nuns from Eichstätt, Bavaria, and whose primary work was in education, would found a hospital, but that’s exactly what the sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., did. Responding to the needs of the local area and the urging of Dr. A.C. Lamothe Ramsay, in 1886, they founded a hospital in St. Cloud.

For three-fourths of a century, the hospital grew, moved to its present location, and prospered under the care of the sisters. They began a School of Nursing to train nursing staff from 1908 to 1987. However, by the 1960s, the world was changing, and the sisters chose to give the hospital to the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud. This marked the end of the sisters’ ownership of the St. Cloud Hospital. It did not, however, end our concern for the continuation of its Benedictine and Catholic mission, based on the principle that “the sick should be served as Christ” (Rule of Benedict 36:1). Currently, the sisters’ sole relationship with the St. Cloud Hospital is through their presence on a corporate board chaired by the bishop of St. Cloud, whose responsibility is to maintain the Catholic, Benedictine identity of the St. Cloud Hospital. This connection is legal only and includes no financial benefit to the Sisters of Saint Benedict or the Diocese of St. Cloud.

In the years which followed the sisters’ decision to give up their ownership of the hospital, it continued to grow and needed to find ways to develop its healthcare services. St. Cloud Hospital was instrumental in developing CentraCare which has become a massive health care system meeting a variety of health care needs throughout Central and Southwestern Minnesota. St. Cloud Hospital now comes under the umbrella of CentraCare as one of a number of facilities which are part of the CentraCare system.

These facilities include clinics, hospitals and nursing homes in Central Southwestern Minnesota. One of these is Saint Benedict’s Community in east St. Cloud, which is neighbor to Saint Scholastica Convent, where the elderly and sick Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict reside.

Saint Scholastica Convent was formerly St. Joseph’s Home, a public nursing home facility, which was run by the Sisters of Saint Benedict. When this closed, the decision was made to use it as the retirement and healthcare center for the sisters. The sisters convinced the St. Cloud Hospital of the need to finance, build and operate a new senior care facility on a site adjacent to Saint Scholastica Convent. St. Benedict’s Senior Community (now St. Benedict’s Community) was the result. The sisters were very much involved with the construction and early management of the new facility, although they were never the owners. St. Benedict’s Community was, and still is, owned by St. Cloud Hospital. This, in turn, means that, St. Benedict’s Community, is part of the CentraCare system.

After all residents from the former St. Joseph’s Home had been moved to St. Benedict’s Community, Saint Scholastica Convent operated independently for several years as a care facility for the sick and retired sisters. In 2008, healthcare needs prompted a study which resulted in developing a management agreement with Saint Benedict’s Community. In summary this means:

  • The Sisters of Saint Benedict at Saint Scholastica Convent is licensed by the state of Minnesota for assisted living with services and limited dementia care.
  • The sisters have a management agreement with St. Benedict’s Community to provide Saint Scholastica with the leadership staffing to maintain good health care and compliance with state regulations.
  • The director is accountable to St. Benedict’s Community.
  • The registered nurses are hired by St. Benedict’s Community, and the sisters are billed for their salaries.
  • Other employees are hired directly by the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict.
  • The sisters pay St. Benedict’s Community a standard management fee.

The arrangement with St. Benedict’s Community means that the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict and, in particular, Saint Scholastica Convent, are affected by decisions made not only by them but by St. Cloud Hospital, which owns St. Benedict’s Community, and CentraCare, which is the umbrella organization.

 On September 19, CentraCare announced that a review had been conducted which indicated that their senior service facilities need to be radically rethought to comply with best practice in the industry. This resulted in resolutions being passed by both the St. Cloud Hospital Board and the CentraCare Board to sell the senior service entities to a senior services specialty company or companies. This proposal affects: St. Benedict’s Community, St. Cloud; St. Benedict’s Community, Monticello; Chateau Waters, Sartell; and Chateau Waters Therapy Suite, Sartell. Because of the relationship with St. Benedict’s Community, St. Cloud, it also affects Saint Scholastica Convent.

At present, St. Cloud Hospital is working to find a suitable partner to purchase the four senior service facilities which it owns. This will have a radical effect on Saint Scholastica Convent because of the relationship with St. Benedict’s Community.

The sisters are considering all options carefully. Our aim is to continue the excellent level of care that is provided for the sisters who reside at Saint Scholastica Convent. We are deeply grateful for the care and commitment of all involved in providing that care. The majority of staff who serve there are employed directly by the sisters, and every effort will be made to safeguard the employment of those currently hired through St. Benedict’s Community. We are confident that, with the guidance of the Spirit, together we can continue to serve our sisters at Saint Scholastica Convent in the way that we would aspire to serve Christ.

Statement prepared by:

Sister Susan Rudolph, Prioress
Sister Karen Rose, Director of Mission Advancement      

September 21, 2022