Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady

History of the North American Region

In early 1911, Bishop Van de Ven of Alexandria, Louisiana, sent a request to Calais, France, for some Sisters to be sent to help open a hospital in Alexandria. Chosen for the assignment were Sister Angelique Van Bockstale, Sister Brigida Comerford, Sister M. Hortulane Arnould, Sister Margaret Gaffney and Sister Saint Joseph Martin. They were led by Mother Marie de Bethanie Crowley, a determined and astute Irish woman. On September 16, 1911, the Sisters boarded a steamship called the SS Rochambeau for the two-week voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to New York.

The Sisters set out by train from New York to Louisiana, arriving in Monroe, Louisiana on September 28, 1911. On September 30, they traveled by train to Pineville and arrived the same day. They were welcomed by searing heat and the unfortunate news that funding for the Alexandria hospital had fallen through. Ever confident, Mother de Bethanie contacted Father Mahe, a Louisiana priest they had met on the Rochambeau. Father Mahe urged the Sisters to come to Monroe, where funding was available through the generosity of another priest, Father Ludovic Enaut.

Just two years later, they opened a hospital in Monroe, eight days ahead of schedule, with the admission of a 10-year old girl with appendicitis.