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St. Mary’s Hospital Healing Garden is dedicated


SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation recently hosted a ceremony for the Sister Clarette Healing Garden. Located to the south of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital is a special garden that inspires hope and life within all who visit, has been dedicated to Sr. Clarette Stryzewski for her years of faithful service and leadership.

The dedication ceremony began with Sister Andrea Chudzik providing a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to gather and honor one of her fellow Felician Sisters for years of selfless leadership. Kim McMillan, Chair of St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation, thanked the donors of the project for helping pave the way to health for all who are served by the hospital. Reverend Monsignor David Darin followed with a blessing of the healing garden. He expressed his honor to participate in the dedication; mentioning he was born in St. Mary’s Hospital and had the pleasure of working with Sr. Clarette and the Felician Sisters.

Damon Harbison, SSM Health Illinois President, elaborated on Sr. Clarette’s service to the hospital and within our community. “Sr. Clarette became the President of St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia in 1983 where she served until 1995 and where she changed the healthcare landscape for Centralia and the surrounding communities forever. She was instrumental in beginning a mammography program, she brought the first ever state of the art linear accelerator and broke ground on a new behavioral health unit. Along with so much more. Ultimately, she successfully negotiated the Joint Venture agreement between the Felician Sisters and SSM Health in 1996 merging Good Samaritan Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital into the SSM Health family. She continued to serve on the SMGSI Board of Directors until December 2022,” says Harbison.

Sister Clarette Stryzewski’s unwavering dedication to St. Mary’s Hospital spanned over four decades where she continually put the needs of patients, physicians, and employees above all other priorities. As a very small token of deep appreciation, SSM Health chose to honor Sr. Clarette’s extraordinary service to our ministry by capturing elements of her character and personality throughout the Healing Garden.

“With the Foundation Board of Directors, I extend a heartfelt thank you to each donor whose generosity and love helped create the healing garden,” said Kay Zibby-Damron, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation Director. “Each paver in the garden is a reflection of love; love for Sr. Clarette, love for those who have gone before us, love for family, friends and colleagues. It was blessing to have our dedication on a beautiful day, surrounded by those who care so deeply about St. Mary’s Hospital and our community. We welcome our patients, their families, our employees, and the community to visit the new healing garden. Our hope is that they find it to be a place to seek peace, rest, and rejuvenation.”

Pavers are still available for purchase. Additional pavers will be installed bi-annually. You may choose to honor or memorialize someone special to you with an engraved paver for gifts of $250 (7.5”x15” paver), $500 (15×15 paver) or $750 (15×22 paver).For more information, please go to www.ssmhealth.com/donate/illinois/st-marys-foundation-centralia/healing-garden or call the Foundation Office (618-899-1047).

Pictured above, Sr. Clartette Stryzewski stands poised alongside the Madonna statue at the center of the garden.

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