The 52-acre Marymount campus on Granger Road in Garfield Heights is filled with ministries founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis.
In addition to the congregational home for the sisters, the property houses Trinity High School, a preschool/day care center, the Village at Marymount Senior Care Community and Marymount Hospital, as well as Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine.
Bishop Nelson Perez spent the morning on Feb. 13 touring the campus. Led by Sister Marge White, SSJ-TOSF, president of the congregation, they visited the chapel in the convent and Sister Marge explained the history of the order to the bishop, guiding him through a timeline on a hallway wall in the convent. The order was founded in 1901 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
The sisters dedicated their Garfield Heights convent in 1926. During its early years, the imposing brick building housed both the sisters and St. Joseph Academy, an all-girls’ high school. Several years later, a new school was built and the name was changed to Marymount High School in order to avoid confusion with St. Joseph Academy on Cleveland’s West Side. The school eventually became coed and was renamed Trinity High School. Today there are 346 students in grades 9-12.
Sister Shawn Lee, SSJ-TOSF, Trinity president; Linda Bacho, principal; Bill Svoboda, assistant principal; and Patrick Straffen, director of institutional advancement, chatted with the bishop about the school, its unique internship program for students in grades 10-12, its ministry programs and more. They invited Bishop Perez to return in the fall so he can celebrate Mass and visit with students.
The bishop also stopped to see Marymount Child Care Center, which is housed on the lower level of the convent. He visited with the staff, teachers and children from infants to preschoolers. The toddlers and preschoolers made him cards and the staff presented him with a Taste of Cleveland gift basket.
His next stop was the Village at Marymount Senior Care Community, where Sister Mary Alice Jarosz, SSJ-TOSF and administrators showed him the chapel, physical therapy department, dining hall, patient wings and the memory care unit. Several of the sisters live at the facility, as do some retired priests.
He also got a look at the adjacent Marymount Hospital, which was founded by the sisters in 1949. Dr. Daniel Napierkowski, an anesthesiologist and hospital president, was joined by several other hospital administrators and Cleveland Clinic officials as he led Bishop Perez on a tour of the 315-bed acute-care hospital. In 1995, Marymount became the first of Cleveland Clinic’s regional hospitals. The sisters continue to play a role in the hospital’s ministry by serving on the board and ensuring that the Catholic mission of the hospital remains intact.
Napierkowski showed off a major addition to the hospital that opened in 2012.It includes a new main entrance, state-of-the-art operating rooms and other technology facilities. The bishop saw the emergency department, met with several staff members, doctors, nurses and other caregivers.
“I have a special regard for nurses,” Bishop Perez said, explaining that he spent two weeks in intensive care in a New York hospital after being seriously injured in a 31-car crash. “I saw hospitals from a different perspective and have a new appreciation of what you do.” He offered a special blessing for the hospital’s caregivers and also blessed the emergency department.
Sister Marge said a special installation Mass is celebrated when a new hospital president is named and there is a blessing of the hands for caregivers. “They know they’re coming into the community,” she added.
After a quick trip past the shrine, the bishop joined representatives of the various Marymount ministries for lunch in the convent dining room.
“This campus is our legacy and our gift to Garfield Heights,” said Sister Marge. She said the sisters have been working for several years to ensure that their ministries continue because they know their numbers are decreasing and that they might not be here in the future.
“It’s like us letting go and putting all this into the hands of capable people so the ministries don’t stop,” she said.
Straffen said he hopes the bishop felt a synergy as he visited the Marymount campus. “The leadership of all the ministries really work together,” he added.
“I haven’t visited a place with this level of programming ever. It may be unique in the diocese and maybe even the country,” Bishop Perez said. “You have a hospital, high school, day care and a nursing home. You just need an elementary school and you’ll have it all,” he quipped.