- Associated Press - Monday, March 10, 2014

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - As Pope Francis joyously displays his faith, he models Saint Francis, who lived simply, served the vulnerable and considered all beings - including insects - to be his brothers and sisters.

His example has inspired the Franciscan sisters of Rochester to reaffirm their own efforts to live Franciscan values, from tending to bees to helping the poor in various missions.

The sisters have helped build Rochester from the time Mother Alfred Moes convinced Dr. W.W. Mayo that a hospital should be built in Rochester after the devastating 1883 tornado.

Saint Marys opened in 1889 and succeeded so well with surgical survival that the Mayo brothers were soon famous, and Mayo Clinic has become a worldwide medical presence.

It’s unlikely Mayo Clinic would have grown in the same fashion were it not for the construction of Saint Marys Hospital.

In the early years, said Sister Jean Keniry, medical staff worked “elbow-to-elbow” with sister-nurses and the sisters openly lived the essence of their Francisan values alongside members of the medical staff.

“I suppose they caught it,” Keniry told the Post-Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1i15T7y).

She arrived at Saint Marys in 1955.

“The values were the very center; respect, compassion, healing and integrity were just paramount,” she said. They “just flowed right out of the Gospel.”

Franciscan values have become so much a part of Mayo Clinic and Rochester, the sisters say, that their own physical presence isn’t necessary to maintain them. The sisters no longer directly govern the Saint Marys campus.

“We have to rely on the staff to carry them out now, because we’re thinning out,” said Saint Marys archivist Sister Lauren Weinandt.

“We’ve planted seeds, grown something,” said Sister Tierney Trueman.

About 140 to 145 pilgrimages have been made by Mayo Clinic leaders to Assisi, Italy, where Saint Francis was born. The pilgrimages were begun by the hospital Sponsorship Board to help Mayo leaders learn about the Franciscan values firsthand.

“As we were moving away from the sisters being closely involved, we were looking for ways to help leadership,” Keniry said.

The values, Keniry said, are Mayo Clinic values. They’re Franciscan values. And the values of the Mayo and Francisan founders, including Mother Alfred, the Mayo brothers and other doctors and sisters who helped form Saint Marys and Mayo.

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