Sisters of St. Joseph Set the Stage for Today’s Spirit of Caring

By Michael E. McRae
President & CEO
St. Ann’s Community


Do you offer mass?

That’s one of the questions we’re often asked by people considering a move to St. Ann’s Community. It’s an important one to those living the Catholic faith, and the answer is a definite yes.

Of course, we welcome people of all faiths and those with no particular view on the matter. It’s our Catholic tradition, however, that is most identified with St. Ann’s. It all started with the Sisters of St. Joseph 150 years ago, and their influence is still felt every day.

“We celebrate the sacredness of life from the moment a person arrives here,” says Sister Mary Lou Mitchell. As our Director of Pastoral Care, Sister Mary Lou is perhaps the most visible member of the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Ann’s. You may also know Sister Mary Ann Sutera, a longtime volunteer who serves in multiple capacities. Both are carrying on the tradition of compassionate faith-based care that their order is known for.

It began in 1873 when the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester founded the Home of Industry. There, they provided shelter and taught trades to young immigrant women with no families. As time went on, these aging women came back to the Sisters, now in need of different services. The SSJ mission then evolved to address this growing need: caring for the elderly. That noble work set the stage for what became St. Ann’s Home, and it’s exactly what we’ve been doing ever since.

We’re proud to have one of the largest Pastoral Care departments in Monroe County among acute and long-term care providers. With three full-time and two part-time members, spiritual guidance and comfort are always available to our elders. Our retired Priests-in-Residence (three in Irondequoit, two in Webster) are available to provide the Catholic sacraments 24/7.

As Sister Mary Lou says, it’s all about relationships. “That’s what we’re about: building relationships from neighbor to neighbor and between neighbor and God. St. Ann’s today embodies the same values held by the Sisters of St. Joseph who founded us.”

Those values aren’t limited to the religious personnel on our campuses. They permeate the overall environment and the manner in which all of our staff interact with our elders.

“The staff at St. Ann’s have the same values that I have as a Sister of St. Joseph,” Sister Mary Lou says. “We care for the most vulnerable. We see the invisible as visible. We build relationships to promote life and love and celebrate the beauty of each person.”

I’m in awe when I consider it’s been 150 years since our founding by the Sisters of St. Joseph. I’m also thankful that the spirit of caring that called them to their ministry is as strong at St. Ann’s Community today as it was then.

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