In 1891, diphtheria struck a farming area west of Silverton, Oregon. A family called Simmons was particularly stricken by the disease, and they turned to the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel—who had established a monastery in the town only three years earlier—for help in caring for their ill children.
The sisters responded to the call. For the next two months, indifferent to personal risk, they attended to the family, converting the Simmons farmhouse into a hospital, ministering to all their needs, praying for their recovery and refusing any payment for their services.
Author Thomas Ewing is a descendant of the Simmons family. Call & Responseis his tribute to the Benedictine Sisters and a fascinating history of the order’s presence in Mt. Angel, Oregon. Sixty-four years after the diphtheria epidemic, the Sisters assumed supervision of a small nursing home. Over the next decades, through ceaseless energy and devotion, they made thehome one of the finest in the nation, renowned for its innovation and compassion in caring for the elderly.
“Of the Sisters’ many achievements—Mt. Angel College, the Shalom Prayer Center, and Mission Benedict—none quite equal the Benedictine Nursing Center, now the Providence Benedictine Nursing Center, either in scope or number of lives touched.”