The History of Villa St. Francis
In 1944, the Bishop of Leavenworth, Kansas, Bishop Paul C. Schulte proclaimed, “Our first project is to replace our 70 year old orphanage and our second project must be an Old Folks Home.” A building program requiring contributions was needed in total of $500,000.00, and war bonds were accepted as a form of payment. The people’s inspiring support for this campaign brought it into fruition in less than 120 days. On February 23, 1945, Bishop Schulte announced the purchase of the existing Grandview Sanitarium at 26th and Ridge in Kansas City, Kansas.
Installed as its first Superior, Sister Mary Hypatia Coughlin of the Sisters of Charity announced that Sisters Mary Jane Wilson, Mary Adolph Schuele, and Ann Vincent Roth would support her in opening and achieving the Home's Mission. Mount St. Joseph’s Mission, in the words of Bishop Schulte, was to provide a home for the aged where those with meager resources might spend their declining days in frugal comfort under religious auspices.
With 45 rooms, newly staffed, renovated and christened, Mount St. Joseph’s first patient was admitted on July 1, 1946. With over 300 diocesan faithful having a need for the facility, a waiting list was initiated just days later. Shortly after opening, Sister Mary Hypatia Coughlin’s prayers were answered when Mr. George Bennett of Kansas City, Kansas funded an elevator and its installation. This gift allowed patients to move about freely within the entire 3-story structure. During this time, a grotto similar to Lourdes, a little flower shrine, and a shrine to our Lady of Fatima were also consecrated. In moderate weather, guests enjoyed the cool, treed grounds.
On July 1, 1954 the first chapter of Gray Ladies of The American Red Cross to ever service a home for the aged began assisting Mount St. Joseph. Serving approximately 45 guests with a library, television, game rooms, and music, Mount St. Joseph served the people of the Kansas City in Kansas Diocese until July 1, 1977 when The Sisters of Charity announced that they would no longer serve at Mount St. Joseph and Catholic Housing Service, Inc. took over. It was decided at that time that Mount St. Joseph should close and move to 759 Vermont in the former St. Margaret’s Hospital. Thirty-One years after Mount St. Joseph accepted its first guest, it moved its current residents to their new facility, and began accepting additional patients for its 205 newly renovated rooms. This facility was named St. Joseph Care Center.
In the ensuing years, St. Joseph Care Center continued to serve the needs of inner-city people that not only had a need for care, but for jobs as well. By 1994, St. Joseph Care Center was the largest not-for-profit nursing facility in the state of Kansas.
In its first 50 years, St. Joseph Care Center was fulfilling Pope John Paul II’s proclamation, “When the sick, the aged or the dying are abandoned in loneliness, we will stand up and proclaim that they are worthy of love, care and respect.” This love, care, and respect was offered and rendered without regard to creed, color or ability to pay. So, on the 50th anniversary, the staff at St. Joseph Care Center paused for a few hours to celebrate 50 years of outstanding service to the community.
Three Sisters of Charity, whom had served St. Joseph Care Center with distinction by doing the little things extremely well, were honored during the 50th Anniversary celebration. Sister Mary Adolph Schuele, Sister Mary Brost, and Sister Mary Kenneth Messina were instrumental in providing heartfelt care through the facility of St. Joseph Care Center by sharing their gifts of nursing, pastoral leadership and business development.
In 1998, St. Joseph Care Center moved to Olathe, Kansas due to various building renovations and repair needs due to the age of the physical plant of St. Joseph Care Center. To not confuse St. Joseph Care Center with St. Joseph Hospital, the move also brought a name change to Villa St. Francis.
Today, Villa St. Francis continues the same tradition of quality care to the citizens of Northeast Kansas with love, care and respect.