SISTER MAURA BRANNICK, C.S.C.
“I love people.”
Sister Maura Brannick’s leadership philosophy can be found in her belief that, “Our world needs all the help it can get.” Her way of helping is by following her heart and doing whatever is necessary despite the obstacles she must confront. Her leadership has helped her serve some of the most vulnerable members of the Michiana community.
Sister Maura reflects that, “I’ve lived an exciting life. I came from a farm. I joined the Sisters of the Holy Cross after high school.” Upon joining the congregation, Sister Maura went into nursing and has “loved every minute of it. I still love it.”
Sister Maura began her professional life working as a nurse in Carroll, Illinois before transferring to South Bend where she worked and lived at St. Joseph Hospital. She left the hospital and returned home to Boise, Idaho for a few years to care for her mother. This moment away from South Bend shifted Sister’s Maura career into a new direction. While in Idaho, she realized that even though the hospital provided much necessary health care for the community, it was unable to fully serve those who arguably needed help the most – indigent, homeless, and undocumented individuals living in and around South Bend. Sister Maura’s vision was to offer home visits and basic health services for these individuals. She began these visits by conducting blood pressure and blood sugar tests and quickly realized there was a need for more services. She recalled that she “saw so much poverty on the West side and wanted to create a place to help.”
To help fill this need, she first turned to her congregation and St. Joseph Hospital for financial support. Her goal was to create a primary care facility that would focus on providing access to health care for all. In a small, rundown carriage house behind the Hansel Center, the Chapin Street Medical Clinic opened in 1986. Through the clinic patients could access a full range of health services for only $5.00 per visit, which covered the examination, treatment, tests, and prescriptions. However, no patients were denied treatment for not being able to afford this fee. The clinic also offered dental services for a fee of $10 per visit.
During this time Sister Maura continued to do home visits, offering blood pressure and blood sugar tests. She also did outreach for the clinic. Her request to the medical community for volunteer help was so well received that within a matter of months, it became clear that they would need a larger facility. By 1989, the clinic had outgrown the carriage house and moved to a larger building. In 1997, it moved into its current facility and serves as a full community center that has a community meeting room, food pantry, prayer room, exercise room, and dental clinic.
Sister Maura’s work has been recognized with various awards, including a Point of Light Award given to her by President George H.W. Bush, the Sagamore of the Wabash Award given to her by Governor Joe Kernan, and the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Catholic Health Association. Sister Maura’s work has also been recognized by the renaming of the clinic to the Sister Maura Brannick, C.S.C. Health Care Center in South Bend.
Today Sister Maura spends much of her time at the convent praying and providing health care ministry for other sisters there. However, she still sometimes makes a visit to the clinic.
Information compiled from oral history collected by Michiana Women Leaders, Inc.
Sister Maura Brannick, C.S.C. was a 2019 Celebrating Michiana Women Leaders honoree.