St. Joseph’s Hospital celebrates 100th Anniversary

BUCKHANNON — St. Joseph’s Hospital hosted their celebration to honor the 100-year anniversary of the hospital. The event was held at the Brushy Fork Even Center on Monday, March 28 at 2 p.m.

A pamphlet was provided to those in attendance with a brief history of St. Joseph’s Hospital, as well as speakers who would comment on the event. The documentation provided revealed that the hospital has roots dating back to 1838, the year the Pallottine Sisters was founded.

The Pallottine Sisters was a group created to assist Vincent Pallotti, a Roman Priest. Pallotti is noted to have had a mission to “revive, strengthen, spread faith, and enkindle charity throughout the world.” The first Pallotine Sisters made it to the United States in the year 1912, having passed the Titanic wreckage as their own ship safely treaded the ocean full of icebergs.

In 1920, four Sisters purchased an estate on a hilltop overlooking Buckhannon. The home was made into an eight-bed hospital and convent for the sisters with the assistance of their friends and benefactors.

St. Joseph’s Hospital has grown into a large medical provider and continues to be dedicated to serving the needs of the residents of central West Virginia. The mission statement of St. Joseph’s Hospital states, “We are inspired by the love of Christ to provide for our community with quality health care in ways which respect the God-given dignity of each person and the sacredness of human life.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital’s sponsorship was transferred from the Pallottine Missionary Sisters to United Hospital Center and WVU medicine in the fall of 2015 to “continue to deliver the highest quality care in the most effective and efficient manner.”

Skip Gjolberg, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Hospital, provided the welcoming speech. “I want to welcome everyone here to St. Joseph’s celebration of 100 years of providing a healing mission of Jesus Christ to the people of Buckhannon, Upshur and the surrounding counties. I want to welcome the Pallottine Missionary Sisters, representative for the Pallottine Foundation, elected officials of the City of Buckhannon, members of the Buckhannon-Upshur Rotary Club, members of ART26201, members of the Upshur County Development Authority, members of the press and news organizations, members of the clergy, our representative from the hospital association, our auxiliaries at St. Joseph’s, our foundation board members, our hospital board members and members of the leadership team. Thank you all for being here on this cold March Day. It is actually 101 years and one week after the four Sisters started the hospital in 1921. We are finally able to come together to celebrate this momentous occasion. COVID had put it on hold last year. Without further ado, I welcome Barry Moll, Chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital, for the invocation,” said Gjolberg.

Chaplain Moll then led those in attendance in prayer. “Gracious God, we give you thanks and praise today for St. Joseph’s Hospital and remember 100 years of caring for the sick and wounded in our area. Tested by the COVID pandemic, you’ve strengthened us and brought out the best in the community. As we gather today, we are inspired by our past and grounded in our Christ centered values and look forward to continuing our work as part of the WVU Medicine Family.” Chaplain Moll continued to honor the history of St. Josephs in his prayer before closing with those in attendance whispering, “Amen.”

Following prayer, a video message of congratulations was played and displayed Albert L. Wright Jr., President and CEO of West Virginia University Health System. Wright Jr. commenting on the success of 100 years and the hope for continued success for another century.

Sister Mary Grace Barile, Provincial Superior for the Pallottine Missionary Sisters USA, then took the podium to speak. Barile said, “Today’s the event is closing the official 100th Anniversary of St. Joseph’s Hospital. A journey that so many of you have been a part of for many years, you and your families. We are happy to be here and extend greetings and good wishes from all the Pallottine Sisters. We are grateful to Mr. Skip Gjolberg and his leadership team as you honor our Pallottine Missionary Sisters. I express my thanks and especially to Sister Francesca Lowis. I pray that the Lord grants members of St. Joseph’s Hospital and their families many blessings and fills their lives and those of their families with joy, peace, and grace as they serve Him in their daily ministry. Thank you all.”

Next the President of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Board of Trustees Dennis Xander spoke. “I can’t tell you how proud and honored I am to participate in something that has been so good for our community. The Pallottine Sisters have maintained this hospital with perseverance and faith. I was so impressed with this,” he said. Xander continued to speak of how the development of Obama Care had impacted the hospital and that led the sisters to transfer sponsorship of the hospital of WVU Medicine. “I asked the Sisters if that was hard to let something go that they had grown and developed. The Sisters said no, it wasn’t hard because it God wanted it to continue the way it was, He would have provided additional Sisters to make it happen. This was the way it’s supposed to be,” said Xander.

Don Nestor, who currently serves as the Vice President of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, then spoke. “On behalf of the foundation, it is an honor to congratulate not only the Sisters but also the entire staff of the hospital who have worked over the years to help the community and the community itself,” said Nestor, who also spoke briefly on how the foundation raises funds for different projects in the community.

Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner spoke next. “Good afternoon, in addition to serving on the hospital’s foundation board it is my honor and privilege as serving as Mayor of our beautiful City of Buckhannon. On behalf of City Council, our staff and administration, and 6,000 corporate residents we collectively congratulate St. Joseph’s Hospital on 100 years of providing high quality and lifesaving medical care to Buckhannon, Upshur County, and all of central West Virginia,” said Skinner. “Almost 33 years ago like many in this room I was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I’ve always been proud to say that I was born, raised, and educated right here in Buckhannon. But my foundation, the most important part of any structure was established at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Our medical center is not just a hospital, it’s part of our families and our community. The professionals who care for us are our friends, neighbors, volunteers, church members, Sunday school teachers, coaches, and mentors all who enrich our quality of life,”

Mayor Skinner continued, “St. Joseph’s Hospital is the largest employer in Upshur County and provides tremendous economic benefit to our community. The City of Buckhannon sincerely appreciates our close working relationship with St. Josephs’ Hospital. We believe that a strong city helps to create a strong hospital and we cannot deny that a strong hospital is vital to creating a strong city. I can say with confidence that Buckhannon would not be the beautiful and thriving community that it is today without the strong and steadfast presence of St. Joseph’s Hospital. So, on behalf of the City of Buckhannon, we sincerely thank Skip, Lisa, Dennis, Don, our Sisters and all who are in the room. Your leadership, gifts, and service and most of all love for this organization is why we are here celebrating 100 strong years. I am sure we could all hope and pray and we share in that hope and prayer that in another 100 years hospital and community leaders are gathering to celebrate another century of quality, life-saving, and innovative medical care. It has always been and still is and may it always be the right care is right here in Buckhannon at St. Joseph’s Hospital.”

Sister Francesca Lowis, Vice President of Mission Integration at St. Joseph’s Hospital, then spoke and read from Acts 3:1-10. After reading from scripture, Lowis noted, “While they do not have silver and gold, they gave of themselves and through their works and example led many to praise God.” Lowis was referring to the Sisters and those who work at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Lowis. She continued, “I especially want to thank Kathy White, she is the chairperson of the committee and I want to thank her for the monumental task of leading and coordinating many activities. COVID made it very difficult for her, but she forged ahead and completed her tasks. Thank you, Kathy, very much.” Lowis then presented White with a bouquet of flowers.

Gjolberg then made closing remarks again thanking everyone. Gjolberg then invited those in attendance to continue with fellowship and enjoy the food and refreshments provided.

The Record Delta also received a quote from a current employee at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Amanda Ketterman, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), who said, “I began my nursing career at the age of 15 as a candy striper at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I still embrace that same hometown hospital feel some 25 years later, serving as a CNM and welcoming new lives into the world. I’m proud to be a part of this facility and plan to continue the legacy of caring for my community’s healthcare needs into the future as my predecessors have done for the previous 100 years!”


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