A statue of Catherine McAuley graces the main lobby of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

Today is the 180th anniversary of the day Catherine McAuley and two associates took their vows and became the first Sisters of Mercy on Dec. 12, 1831.

We reflect on our origins and their legacy with a prayer from Catherine McAuley.

“Suscipe” or
“Act of Resignation”

My God, I am yours for time and eternity.
Teach me to cast myself entirely
into the arms of your loving Providence
with a lively, unlimited confidence in your compassionate, tender pity.
Grant, O most merciful Redeemer,
That whatever you ordain or permit may be acceptable to me. Take from my heart all painful anxiety; let nothing sadden me but sin, nothing delight me but the hope of coming to the possession of You
my God and my all, in your everlasting kingdom.  Amen.

A history of the Sisters of Mercy, as well as the life of Catherine McAuley, is found on the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas website – “A History of Mercy“.


The 22-inch Time Capsule contains a host of items marking the 100th anniversary of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

On November 21, 2011, the anniversary of the day St. Joe’s opened it’s “hospital in a house” on State and Kingsley in 1911, a time capsule was placed within the 2011 cornerstone of the hospital to mark this centennial moment in our history.

Sealed within the steel capsule are photos and videos from the hospital’s new patient towers and main entrance, as well as video and memorabilia that would be intriguing to those who may open it in decades to come.

Most of the multi-media files are stored in a 2-inch flash drive, which is itself a technological leap from the microfiche files that are within the time capsule of 1976.

A reading of the items placed within the 1976 time capsule included newsletters, annual reports and photos from the year St. Joseph Mercy Hospital opened in its new location in Superior Township.  Also included were a pacemaker, a baseball signed by the entire Detroit Tigers baseball team and a Bicentennial proof set of coins.

Perhaps the most intriguing item of the 1976 capsule was a letter predicting future advances in medicine. The writer, Delbert Boblitt, MD, former Chief of Staff of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital from 1977-78, predicted that “the wonders of computers will continue to mystify the unsophisticated among us…. as they process scientific information about the patient’s body and its functions with the speed of light.”

Dr. Boblitt also foretold of advancements in electronic devices at the bedside and lifesaving implants.  He concluded his “prophetic essay” with an expression of hope that “the quality of life will forever remain uppermost in the hearts and minds of those providing care.”

To learn more about St. Joe’s 100-year history, visit the Heritage Exhibit in the main lobby.

Among the Contents placed within the 2011 Time Capsule:

  • A medal of St. Joseph
  • A pin representing St. Joe’s renewal campaign
  • Photos of the main entrance exterior, lobby, Heritage Exhibit, campus, physicians, courtyard, Catherine McAuley statue, Chapel, One North, patient rooms, Holiday Ball, the Farm and medical devices such as Cyberknife.
  • Videos of television commercials, Discover Remarkable episodes, “Century of Caring,” “Opening Our Doors to a Second Century”, Community Open House, Cinema advertisements, 2010 Holiday Ball, H1N1 educational video, a recruitment video and the Road to Renewal Campaign video.
  • SJMHS theme music, advertising samples, “T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K.” poster, campus map, walking trails map, On the Mark and Pulse newsletters, website examples, and radio spots.
  • Copy of the master plan of the campus and a full set of construction documents for the new facilities.

Badge worn on Mercy School of Nursing cape.

Enjoy looking at the Mercy School of Nursing badge while checking out the Heritage Exhibit.

October 25, 1986.  Mental health services are relocated from Mercywood Hospital on Jackson Road to the newly constructed Mercywood Health Building on the Huron River Drive campus.

October 29, 1982.  Catherine McAuley Health Center breaks ground for a Child Care Facility to provide daycare to children of employees.

October 30, 1991. Ground is broken for the Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Care Center, offering a complete range of inpatient and outpatient cancer treatment in one convenient location.

Huron Valley Ambulance is known as provider of paramedic ambulance services to one million residents of eight counties in greater southeast Michigan. But just 30 short years ago, emergency ambulance coverage was in jeopardy and St. Joe’s came to the rescue.

Funeral homes provided ambulance service in the early days for those needing quick transportation to the hospital. Because some people didn’t have insurance, Washtenaw County decided to subsidize ambulance service by contracting with private companies to make the runs bringing indigent people in for care.

Huron Valley Ambulance in front of the University of Michigan Stadium, 1982.

In August 1981, Fontana-Taylor Ambulance Service, the county’s contracted provider at the time, was in danger of closing due to lack of funds. Washtenaw County was facing the threat of not having a major ambulance carrier.

Catherine McAuley Health Center (former name of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System) stepped in to ensure continuation of services by assuming financial management of the company. CMHC bought Fontana-Taylor and Emergency Specialties Service of Whitmore Lake in December 1981, merging them to form the nonprofit Huron Valley Ambulance, Inc.

CMHC operated HVA for 18 months and then invited the four other area hospitals (University of Michigan, PCHA-Beyer, Chelsea and Saline) to form a consortium to run HVA. Successful in their goal of stabilizing emergency medical services for county residents, the hospitals gave up ownership of Huron Valley Ambulance in 1985, making it a community-owned nonprofit organization. A group of volunteer community leaders became HVA’s new board of trustees.

October 4, 1914
Dedication of the 110-bed St. Joseph’s Sanitarium on Ingalls Street is celebrated.

October 5, 1981
The Ambulatory Surgery Facility opens where patients can undergo minor surgical procedures and return home the same day.

October 6, 1918
The collapse of a temporary floor injures 46 soldiers housed at the University of Michigan Waterman Gymnasium and sends 28 to St. Joe’s for treatment.

October 7, 1953.
Ground is broken for the largest and final addition to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital on Ingalls Street.

October 7, 1976
St. Joe’s Goes to the Movies
, the hospital’s first benefit fundraiser, is held. Since that time, the annual St. Joe’s Holiday Ball has signaled the beginning of the holiday season in the community and provided millions of dollars in support for hospital projects.

October 9, 1984
Groundbreaking ceremonies are held for Alpha House, a 16-bed residential chemical dependency facility for adolescents on Jackson Road in Ann Arbor. The program closes in 1994. In 2001, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System offers Alpha House to the Interfaith Hospitality Network for use as a shelter for families experiencing homelessness.

This device was developed by inventor Forrest Bird in the 1950s for breathing assistance in intensive care. Powered by pressurized gas, it required no electricity. Bird Respirators were replaced in the 1970s by electrical motor-driven ventilators that were able to provide more accurate ventilation.

Courtesy of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Respiratory Care Department

Check out the Bird Respirator at the Heritage Exhibit.