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Sr. Stella Louise served as the administrator and president of Saint Mary of Nazareth Hospital (now AMITA Health Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center) in Chicago beginning in 1959 until her retirement in 1999 at the age of 78. She was born in Chicago on November 13, 1920 to Joseph and Antonina (Sledzinska) Slomka. Her family was active in the St. Adalbert parish. On September 2, 1934, she began her aspirancy with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. At the end of her last year of high school, she was received into the novitiate and given the name of Sr. Edelburg. In the 1960s, she returned to her baptismal name.
She professed temporary vows on July 8, 1940. After a year and a half of studying to be a nurse, she became a student in the School of Radiology. In 1944, she was asked to go to Texas where she served until 1955 as an x-ray technician in Dalhart, Wichita Falls, and Tyler. When she returned to the Chicago area, she studied at St. Louis University earning a Bachelor’s in commerce, then a Master’s in hospital administration. She was appointed administrator of St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital in Chicago where she remained for forty years.
Realizing that St. Mary’s Hospital, built in 1894, no longer met the needs of the multi-cultural community of the Humboldt Park/West Town neighborhoods of Chicago, Sr. Stella Louise began envisioning a new 16-story, 490 bed hospital. Her proposal led to a long process with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Undeterred by obstacles, Sr. Stella Louise persisted. After a long and difficult battle, the new St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center was dedicated in January 1975. Sr. Stella Louise’s leadership in reviving the surrounding community is widely recognized. Sr. Stella Louise retired in 1999.
Through the years, she served on numerous boards including the Bishop Abramowicz Seminary Advisory Board and the Retirement Research Foundation. She also received many awards for her healthcare ministry including the Loyola University Community Service Award, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin’s “As Those Who Serve” award, and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifici Award from Pope John Paul II.
In 2013, at the age of 92, she decided it was time for a transfer to Nazarethville. For the final years of her life, she spent many hours in prayer, reading and reflection, and journaling. She passed away on the morning of May 16, 2020. The interment was private in keeping with current health and safety guidelines of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth – Holy Family Province.
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