Have mercy on St. Clare’s religious symbols

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By Mary R. (Tarrant) Hodge

Regarding the article “A question of faith,” in The Telegram Aug. 10, to put it mildly I was very saddened and yet disgusted with the comments of one Terry Loder.

Even though I admire him for trying to be an advocate for the elderly patient in question, I feel that he went overboard in trying to put forth what he really wanted to say or do.

I have been associated with St. Clare’s and the Sisters of Mercy for much of my adult life. I am a former Sister of Mercy, a graduate of St. Clare’s School of Nursing, I was a staff nurse at St. Clare’s, I was a patient at St. Clare’s and, for 25 years, I worked at an interfaith home within the province.

I know all too well what St. Clare’s is all about and I know very well how interfaith homes work within our region. Religion is a way of life and we learn to respect each and every one of them. Clergy come and go, and you admire them for their commitment to their members, the patients.

Getting back to the topic, I recall how hard the Sisters of Mercy laboured to see that St. Clare’s had its humble beginnings as a hospital to provide the best possible care for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador when hospitals were very few and were badly needed. I recall the financial commitment that the Sisters of Mercy gave to the province in order to carry on their mission of caring for the sick of the province in the administration of quality nursing care to all who graced their doors, regardless of race, colour or creed.

I think of the many Sisters of Mercy who became mentors for the cause of St. Clare’s. I thank the doctors, nurses and staff (past and present) who made St. Clare’s their place of work through the years and who provided good care to their patients. Religion, to my mind, was never a problem.

I suggest that Mr. Loder, in his spare time, come aside and rest awhile and read the book entitled “The Mustard Seed: The Story of St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital” by Sister Kathrine E. Bellamy, and you will see how St. Clare’s came about.

Removing the statue of St. Clare, or the crucifixes, to allay an elderly person’s fear of being at St. Clare’s is not the answer, in my opinion. There are other ways. Where was this elderly person’s family in all of this? Were they aware that this person had such concerns? Couldn’t she be accommodated at the Heath Sciences Centre? A lot of undue stress could have been avoided for this person.

Where will it all end?

I wonder what is going to be on the agenda next. Will the RCMP members be asked to pass over their badges because people are getting upset?

A cross has been removed from a school of late. Religion is no longer taught in school and now this plea to remove “Roman Catholic symbols” from St. Clare’s — the very core of what St. Clare’s and the Sisters of Mercy’s mission is all about: care of the sick and the holistic approach to sick patients, which includes religious affiliations, whatever the creed.

What purpose will removing a statue or crucifix serve?

I say leave St. Clare’s as it is. Think about the thousands of people who have been blessed by St. Clare’s and its staff and the Sisters of Mercy. How many of them have been comforted by the sight of a statue, a crucifix, a rosary, when their health was in crisis. How many of them welcomed a clergyman in time of need, and were comforted, regardless of creed at St. Clare’s Hospital?

The motto of St. Clare’s School of Nursing was “Mercy above all.” Please be merciful and let the statue of St. Clare remain, for united we stand, divided we fall.

Mary R. (Tarrant) Hodge writes from Lord’s Cove.

Organizations: School of Nursing, Mustard Seed, Mercy Hospital Heath Sciences Centre RCMP

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Terry Loder
    September 14, 2013 - 10:44

    Kindly note that the good works of the sisters of mercy at St. Clare's and is this Province is well recognized by all faiths. I do respect their past. Kindly accept that St. Clare's is now owned by all the people of this Province, and like any public facility e.g.. schools, hospitals, Confederation bldg, etc, NO ONE RELIGION should have the right "under an agreement signed many years ago with the government" to impose their beliefs and values on others regarding abortion or other health matters. Why should any male be denied a vasectomy at St. Clare's because of your religious belief? Your question "Couldn’t she be accommodated at the Heath Sciences Centre?", certainly demonstrates compassion and religious accommodation of others. The elderly patient I represented, in my initial remarks to the Telegram, would find no comfort in such an observation. The situation at St. Clare's, the last of its kind in this Province, is not a " matter of faith", but rather a "matter of facts"

  • rebecca king
    September 13, 2013 - 07:53

    i agree with everything mary tarrant said ,,, what is the world comming to .. so sad . where will all this end for our kids in the future ...

  • Janet
    September 12, 2013 - 16:03

    I too read the august article and was a bit peturbed at this man's point of view....I could not add anything to your article because you said everything I thought of and believe it was well said. Thanks for speaking up.

  • Doug Smith
    September 12, 2013 - 09:59

    Mr. Squeaker, your assertion, “Hardline secularism is showing itself to be more manic and destructive than the greatest delusions ever induced by theology”, is factually incorrect. Statements like that show a severe lack of historical knowledge. On a different topic, why not use your own name? Surely your comments here don’t put you in any danger? Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

  • Dee
    September 12, 2013 - 09:09

    Well said I certainly agree,if that hospital bothers you well it's always the HSC,What will happen next my neighbor will be insulted because I have an angel or a nativity scene on my lawn at Christmas time,will we soon be told to remove these.I guess I will end up in court,it's coming people.

  • MrSqueaker
    September 12, 2013 - 05:20

    Hardline secularism is showing itself to be more manic and destructive than the greatest delusions every induced by theology. Look at what is going on in Quebec. John Locke, writing his Letters Concerning Toleration (1689–92) in the aftermath of the European wars of religion, formulated a classic reasoning for religious tolerance. Three arguments are central: (1) Earthly judges, the state in particular, and human beings generally, cannot dependably evaluate the truth-claims of competing religious standpoints; (2) Even if they could, enforcing a single "true religion" would not have the desired effect, because belief cannot be compelled by violence; (3) Coercing religious uniformity would lead to more social disorder than allowing diversity.[16]