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Holy Cross Hospital History

The Alumnae

- excerpt from Nuns and Nightingales 1982

Decibel levels reach alarming heights at Holy Cross reunions as chattering grads relive their three very special years of togetherness-years that formed steel-strong bonds of friendship between classmates.

Organizing these reunions has been one of the rewarding functions of the Alumnae Association of the Holy Cross Hospital School of Nursing for the past forty years. Tireless Calgary grads have hosted five general reunions, welcoming graduates home for a few glorious days of "remember when".

Active in spite of the closure of its alma mater, the Alumnae, now in its fifty-second year, is still holding reunions of "old" Holy grads. The 1982

Presentation of Painting on Behalf of the 1929 Class
E. Moseson (Billsten 1929) Presents Painting on Behalf of the 1929 Class to Sr. L. Leclerc, E. Moseson, T. Brown (Wannop 1938).

The organization began on May 7, 1931 when eighty-five Holy Cross graduates met in the lecture hall to form an association. Margaret Brown, first graduate of the School in 1910, chaired the meeting. At the third meeting, held on June 4, 1931, Lucille de Satge (1919) was elected president, and Margaret Brown (1910) was made the first honorary member. Fees were set at 50 cents.

Objectives of the organization, as set down in the constitution were:
a) The promotion of unity, loyalty and good feeling between Alumnae members and student nurses.
b) The advancement of the interests and upholding the standards of the profession of nursing.
c) The keeping in touch with our Alma Mater for our mutual benefit.

During its first year, the Alumnae invited the public to a coffee party at the home of Mrs. W.R. Cope (McPhelan 1914) to raise funds for the fledgling association. Members, students and Sisters were invited to hear Dr. Lincoln, first of many doctors to lecture to the group, deliver a travelogue at a general meeting. Christmas donations that year included a bouquet for the Sisters, and $5 each to the Lacombe Home and the Sunshine Welfare Fund. The sewing committee purchased flannelette for layettes, which were kept on hand for destitute patients and emergency Red Cross appeals, and a contribution was made toward purchase of a radio for the nurses' home. By September of 1932, there were thirty-four paid-up members and a bank account of $129.04.

During the Depression years, the membership fee of 50 cents was discontinued and an appeal was forwarded to Sister Superior asking for job preference to be given to Holy Cross graduates. Fifty dollars was given to the Sisters to help to defray the graduation expenses.

A pattern of activities for future years was soon established. The membership would assist the students of their School, would respond to public appeals that pertained to the health field, would work with the Sisters to improve hospital care and would foster fellowship and loyalty among graduates of the Holy Cross. Assistance to the students took many forms: first the radio for the residence and the donation towards graduation expenses - then social evenings, an annual banquet for graduating students and a gold medal for highest mark in theory, which was presented at graduation exercises. Yearbooks were supported with a full-page ad. In 1955, Alumnae covered the cost of a float entered in the Women's Jubilee Parade. The float, was designed and decorated by the students, won first prize.

In 1954, a $100 bursary was awarded to an alumnus for use on postgraduate studies. The following year, the amount of such bursaries was increased to $250, and a scholarship award fund was established in 1957 to assist members with further studies. Response to public appeals was generous and the group supported activities at the Lacombe Home, Wood's Christian Home, the Salvation Army and the Providence Creche. During WWII, parcels were sent to Holy Cross grads serving overseas and members worked for the Red Cross at home. They were also active with the Blood Donor Clinic, Cancer Clinic and Civil Defence Board. The Alumnae actively supported the efforts of the A.A.R.N. and the C.N.A.

Tangible gifts of equipment and furnishings were made to the hospital as well. To celebrate the hospital's Golden Jubilee in 1941, a homecoming was arranged for all graduates, and a sterling silver tea and coffee service with tray was presented to the hospital. The Alumnae was often featured on the society pages of local newspapers as members diligently raised funds for its many activities. Teas, home bake sales, garden parties, raffles, dressed doll sales, bingos, bridge parties, fashion shows, variety shows - all manner of ladylike schemes were explored in a search for money to carry out the Alumnae's good works.

The Sisters, in return for years of loyalty from their grads, provided meeting rooms and kitchen facilities for functions and, for many years, granted hospitalized members a reduction in their bills.

In the fall of 1957, the Golden Jubilee of the School, graduates from across Canada and the U.S. gathered for another happy reunion, and a tour of the new nurses' residence, which had opened in August. Alumnae member Elsie McQuade (Black 1910), member of the first class, and Maureen Mooney, a 1957 grad, were chosen to unveil the plaque marking the opening of the residence. Following the reunion, almost $6,000 was donated for furnishing the reception lounge in the residence.

Tea with E. McQuade
E.McQuade (Black 1910); C. MacDonald (Sahara 1946) Pour Tea, 1957.

In the 1960's, the Alumnae helped to alleviate a shortage of nurses by sponsoring refresher courses at the hospital so that older grads could "get a retread" and return to active nursing.

Support and encouragement of the students continued with donations of books to the library and binding of current nursing journals, a project of the '60s and '70s. Repairs were made to the tennis courts. At the suggestion of the School and students, the annual grad banquets were discontinued in the mid- '60s.

Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross being airlifted into position

Another reunion was held in the fall of 1967-a 60th anniversary celebration in Canada's Centennial year. A highlight of that occasion was the Alumnae's presentation of the massive Celtic cross which is a feature of the new hospital, completed later that year. Made of pre-cast concrete, the cross weighs 1,160 pounds and had to be lifted 180 feet into the air by helicopter so that it could be bolted into place high on the side of the hospital.

Mountain Paintings

In 1969, the Alumnae was disturbed to receive a letter from the Grey Nuns telling of the proposed sale of their hospital to the Province. Sister Fernande Dussault, Provincial Supervisor of the Grey Nuns, expressed their best thanks and warmest appreciation to all members. The Alumnae was to miss its enduring ties with the Sisters of Charity.

Another most successful reunion, which attracted nearly one thousand graduates and Sisters, was held in 1977. Surplus funds from the festivities, amounting to $2,000, were donated to the hospital for purchase of pictures for the wards.

Members continued to enjoy their association with the student nurses until the closure of the School in 1979. A graduates' luncheon was given for the final class and, at the end of 1979 exercises, the Alumnae's medal for Highest Standing of Theory was awarded for the last time.

Although the Holy Cross Hospital School of Nursing is a part of history now, its Alumnae organization will continue to work for the improvement of nursing in the Province. A recent generous donation by the family of Melitta Fletcher (Berg 1910), one of the first six students at the hospital, will enable the association to continue its practice of awarding financial assistance to members wishing to continue their educations.

Collection of the Archives of the School of Nursing began with donations from various members over the years. Photos, artifacts and memorabilia were preserved in the Blue Room in the Grey Nuns Building, that was home of the organization, while papers and records of historical significance have been donated to both the Glenbow Archives and the University of Calgary's Rare Books and Special Collections.

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the School in 1982, its history Nuns and Nightingales, was published as a final, loving tribute to the School and to the Grey Nuns who founded it.

We are all volunteers and are trying to keep the alumnae active.

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Webmaster Helen Williams ('67) (Kimborllaye Lyncaster)
RN; B.Sc.; B.B.A. Grad Studies Molecular Biology & Genetics
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