Bishop’s Hospital Fund Oversubscribed $200,000

Camden Courier-Post – May 19, 1964

Ground for Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was broken September 7, 1947. More than 2,500 persons saw Bishop Eustace turn the first spadeful of earth at the site on Haddon Avenue near Euclid. He then blessed the ground.

The ceremony, attended by church dignitaries, civic and professional leaders, was the culmination of a campaign opened a year previously by the bishop to raise funds for the new hospital construction.

In his address Bishop Eustace reported the goal of $2,200,000 was oversubscribed by more than $200,000.

Rich, Poor Contributed

“This was indeed a very generous response for which thanks are to be returned to every class of persons;” said the late bishop. “The rich and poor have nobly and generously contributed. The donors were not all Catholics; many not of our faith. Protestants as well as Jews have seen fit to associate themselves with us in this charitable enterprise.

“Mutual suspicions can now be put aside. We make an important step toward oneness of spirit. We become more united in a world torn by conflicting aims and purposes.”

Lights that form a halo for the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes on top of the hospital were turned on for the first time March 28, 1949, by Mother Superior Paracleta, OSF, superintendent of the hospital since it opened. The halo is visible for miles.

Donors Praised at Dinner

Bishop Eustace again praised the people of South Jersey for their benevolence at a dinner Nov. 29, 1949. John Weber and Thomas Kennedy, restaurant owners, jointly presented Bishop Eustace with a check for $3,080 toward the hospital equipment fund. The money represented entire proceeds from the sale of tickets for the dinner.

The bishop paid tribute to “Kenney who is Irish by descent and Weber who is Irish by assent.”

The cornerstone of the hospital was laid Oct. 3, 1948; the building completed March 15, 1950; the hospital dedicated May 28, 1950, and opened for patients July 1, 1950.

The dedication ceremony began with a procession from the front of the hospital to the rear where the speaker’s platform and the altar had been erected.

Hundreds In Procession

Several hundred members of the clergy took part in the procession and, while they walked to the rear of the building, the bells were sounded at the Shrine of Perpetual Rosary in the adjacent Dominican convent.

Honor guard for the procession; included about 75 members of the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree of Camden Diocese under jurisdiction of the Bishop Eustace General Assembly.

The Courier-Post said in an editorial May 30, 1950:

“It was Bishop Eustace who on arrival here 12 years ago was startled by the lack of a Catholic hospital in the diocese. The spiritual leader of the diocese at once set out to remedy that lack and Sunday could see a magnificent monument to his tireless efforts.

Hospital Among Finest

“The hospital was built and equipped from private funds much of which was donated by citizens of all faiths, just as the sick of all faiths will be given refuge and relief there.

“Strikingly modern architecturally, with the latest in scientific and medical equipment, tasteful and inviting in its decor, Our Lady of Lourdes has been called one of the finest hospitals in the country.

“The addition of 362 beds to the hospital facilities of Camden will immeasurably lighten the load of those who care for this community’s sick. And, of course, the sick of Camden will look on this new hospital as a welcome blessing.

“But all of Camden, ill and healthy alike, can feel a sense of pride in its beauty and the harbor of healing it will offer to every one,”

Nursing School Dedicated

The School of Nursing was dedicated May 14, 1961, by Archbishop Damiano, Bishop of Camden. There are 123 young women who are students in the school. Ten were graduated last January. Forty will be graduated next May 24.

When the hospital opened there were 160 beds as compared to 362 now. There were 175 employees at the end of 1950 and 716 at the end of 1963, according to Sister Paracleta. Total in-patients treated in 1950 was 901. Total for 1963 was 12,823. Eighty babies were born in the hospital in 1950. Last year’s total was 2,875.


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