Bon Secours, Sisters of (CBS)

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Officially known as the Congregation of Bon Secours (CBS), a pontifical institute founded on Jan. 24, 1824, when 12 young women pronounced their vows at Saint-Sulpice in Paris, dedicating themselves to the care of the sick in their homes in the aftermath of the trail of destruction that followed the French Revolution. Josephine Potel was the first superior. Hyacinthe de quÉlen, archbishop of Paris, had deliberated long in granting approbation to such an endeavor since it was then a novel form of apostolate. Soon other houses were opened throughout France, and the sisters added the tasks of caring for orphans, operating a school, opening clinics, and providing meeting places for school girls on their days off. The congregation spread to Ireland, England, and later to Scotland.

Through the request of James Gibbons (later cardinal), three sisters went to Baltimore, Md., in 1881 for the first U.S. foundation. In Baltimore, the sisters answered the calls of the sick in their homes, setting up the first modern in-home healthcare service in the U.S. Other innovative healthcare achievements included the establishment of the first daycare center (1907) for children of working mothers who would otherwise be placed in orphanages, and St. Edmond's Home for Crippled Children (1916), the first Catholic-run facility for disabled children in the U.S. In 1919, the sisters opened their first hospital, the Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore.

By the end of 2000, the congregation operated healthcare facilities in Europe (France, Ireland, and Great Britain), the U.S., and South America (Peru and Ecuador). In the U.S., the congregation operates the non-profit Bon Secours Healthcare system that comprises hospitals, hospices, retirement and assisted care facilities, and clinics. The generalate is located in Paris, France, and the congregation's U.S. headquarters is in Marriottsville, Maryland.

Bibliography: m. badiou, Les Soeurs du Bon Secours de Paris (Lyon 1958). j. m. hayes, The Bon Secours Sisters in the U.S. (2d ed. Washington 1931). r. c. connelly and n. taylor, Bon Secours Centennial: 18811981: Tributes to Medical Pioneers. (Grosse Pointe, Mich. 1982). m. c. o'sullivan, The Sisters of Bon Secours in the United States, 18811981: A Century of Caring (Marriottsville, Md. 1982).

[m. l. nugent/eds.]