This month StoryCorps visited Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey and recorded touching and heartfelt conversations about Lourdes, the city of Camden, and the lives of the hospital community.
From patients, doctors, nurses, and cafeteria staff to the CEO, board members, and founders of the Medical Center, our participants were kind and caring people who are dedicated to their work and reflect the Center’s mission to serve all those who come through their doors with “reverence, compassion and integrity in a simple, joyful and hospitable manner.”
Two of our storytellers were celebrating 50 years of service to their communities, and shared their wisdom with us.
Helen Owens (left), a Franciscan Sister of Allegheny, New York is celebrating her Jubilee (50th) year as a Sister. With her friend and colleague, Sister Marianne Hieb, she talked about starting the Wellness Center at Lourdes in the 1970s. Sister Helen was a pioneer of holistic medicine in the community, and dedicated herself to bringing yoga, meditation, parenting services, art therapy, and community health education to Camden. For Helen, health isn’t just about not getting sick, but about living a full, happy, and creative life. The Wellness Center is still thriving today as a venue for all sorts of community health resources and classes.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Monsignor Michael Doyle, who is also in his 50th year of service as priest in the Diocese of Camden, including 35 years as pastor of Sacred Heart Church. He told us about being a member of the “Camden 28,” a group of anti-Vietnam war activists who famously raided the Camden draft board in 1971. He told us that as a teacher and pastor in a poor city he wanted to stop the injustice of sending Camden’s young men to war. In the 38 years since then Michael has dedicated himself to the youth and underprivileged citizens of Camden. He spoke passionately but humbly about the soup kitchen he founded, as well as the fishing pier and gym he was able to open for the community. Although he was born in Longford, Ireland, Monsignor Doyle is truly a walking encyclopedia about the city he loves so much.
Many thanks to everyone at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center who took an hour out of their (very busy!) day to add their voices to the StoryCorps archive.
You can read more about StoryCorps’ visit to Lourdes Health System, and hear some of the stories we recorded at http://www.lourdesnet.org/news/storycorps.php.