Saturday, November 2, 2013
Day of Remembrance
One year ago today, our community celebrated the 90th anniversary of the opening of Baraboo's first official hospital, St. Mary's Ringling Hospital. Much like the dedication of the Ringling Bros. Circus mansion-turned-hospital in 1922, our event last year was filled with joy and remembrance, laced with a little pomp and circumstance. I awoke today thinking about that anniversary, so I decided to take a long walk this afternoon to the cemetery and to the site of the former St. Mary's Ringling Hospital/Manor/Convent as my own day of remembrance. While researching our 90th anniversary event last year and the subsequent book I wrote about our local health care history, Healing Presence: A History of Caring, I spent so much time in the past that it was sometimes hard to pull myself back into the present. Monsignor Edward C. O'Reilly; Sister Mary Liguori O'Toole, FSM; and Mrs. Adella Ringling played pivotal roles in the story of our first hospital. I once again visited their graves today and "talked" to them. Then, I headed down Oak Street to visit the sadly dilapidated site of St. Mary's Ringling Hospital/Manor/Convent, with its beautiful grounds all overgrown, the facility's windows boarded up and the overall property anxiously waiting to be torn down and cleaned up and taken out of its misery. I walked through the grounds that had once been so beautiful, with the breath-taking view of the Baraboo Bluffs to the south. Then, as I looked up at the brick building, I saw something very special. Several weeks ago, a friend gave me a stained glass window from St. Mary's Ringling, framed and ready to be hung in our home. I will cherish it forever. Today, as I looked up at the building, I recognized from where the stained glass had come and, I must admit, the tears flowed. So much of my late mother's history and, consequently mine, was tied to St. Mary's Ringling. I continue to pray that something deserving will happen with that property and I so hope that I will get to be part of it.