History of Our Lady of Peace Home in St. Paul

Nathaniel Hawthone, the father of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop/Mother Alphonsa.
(Formerly Our Lady of Good Counsel Home)

This facility has served the Twin Cities area since Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1941, when the doors of the newly renovated Tri-State telephone building at 2076 St. Anthony Ave., St. Paul, were opened to care for those terminal cancer patients who were unable to afford care in other nursing homes, or to continue home care. This home was one of several such homes in the United States owned and operated by the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer, known as the Hawthorne Dominicans, named for the location of their Motherhouse in Hawthorne, N.Y. (Franciscan Health Community assumed operational responsibilities of the Home Feb. 1, 2009.)

This order was founded by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, daughter of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne. Rose’s background was cultured and protected, but she was moved to answer the call from God to serve His suffering and neglected poor. As she searched out the direction her life should take in God’s service, her choice was determined by the experiences of two people who died from the effects of cancer.

Emma Lazarus, a wealthy, Jewish poetess, who wrote the quote for the Statue of Liberty, had all the comforts and attention money could buy. Rose’s other friend was a seamstress, whose illness had deprived her of any means of support. She died, neglected and alone, in a pauper’s ward on Welfare Island. This contrast formed Rose’s decision to “serve the neediest class of people she knew: those with incurable cancer and without the means to provide care for themselves.”

Leaving her comfortable and cultured surroundings, her stimulating and artistic friends and achievements, Rose established herself in two small rooms on the lower East Side in New York City. Alone, amid a raucous and frightening environment, she began her apostolate with a clinic and visits to the home-confined.

From the beginning, her dream envisioned free care “provided by women who were willing and inspired to give up their comforts and desires to care for these outcasts of fortune.”

She yearned to give them back their dignity and self-respect by surrounding them with a clean, cheerful, home-like atmosphere, and by alleviating their suffering with patience, love and understanding.

Soon she was joined by a promising young artist, Alice Huber, who became the co-foundress. Alice’s steady and practical assistance balanced the impetuous compassion and generosity of her companion. Together, they developed the dream that Rose expressed: “My great hope is to take the neediest class I know, both in poverty and suffering, and put them in such a condition that if our Lord knocked on the door I should not be ashamed to show Him what I had done.”

In 1900, they were accepted as Third Order Dominicans and continued developing and expanding the work as religious. Rose Hawthorne became Mother Alphonsa, and Alice Huber took the name of Sister Rose.

Mother Alpohonsa never faltered in her belief in the providence of God and in the generosity and compassion of the public.

The well-equipped Homes provide the loving care and cheerful surroundings which she envisioned. The homes are entirely supported by voluntary contributions of goods, money, time, service and effort. No remuneration is accepted from the patient, family or government agencies. The  Franciscan Health community has a strong commitment to see that the mission of the sisters, to provide free care to those with incurable cancer, continues here at Our Lady of Peace Home.

More at ourladyofpeacemn.org


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