Early Pioneers in Philanthropy

Early Pioneers in PhilanthropyThere is a long history of philanthropy with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, the founding congregation of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System. One of the earliest and most legendary philanthropists was Sister Mary of Jesus Noirry.

In the late 1800s, Sister Mary of Jesus traveled through San Antonio and surrounding towns and ranches to beg for money to help the children served at the Santa Rosa Infirmary and at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Sisters, including Sister Mary of Jesus, regularly went out and begged for donations at local government offices, businesses, military posts and railroad construction sites.

Sister Mary of Jesus was fearless in her travels and in her fundraising. She disguised her religious habit by donning an overcoat that reached to her ankles, boots and a broad-brimmed straw hat. Because the roads were often dangerous, she carried pistols for protection from wild animals and unruly encounters.

As described by one of her traveling companions: “After tying the horses to the wagon, she would spread her blankets on the ground, say her night prayers, take out her pistols, and placing one of them at each side of her, at a convenient distance, she would lie down and sleep as peacefully as if she were in her bed.”1

Today, the generosity of our donors makes it possible for us to continue our mission and we thank our founding Congregation for paving the philanthropic way.


1 Promises to Keep, Vol. I, pgs. 35-36