January/February 2008

The Water of St. Thomas Spring


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(Left to right) Michael Fiechter, board chair, and Gene Woods, president and chief executive officer, Saint Joseph Health System.

The presence of a pitcher of water from St. Thomas Spring added to the significance of the transition ritual and celebration held at Flaget Memorial Hospital, Bardstown, Ky., on January 28. The spring is located in St. Thomas Parish, on the outskirts of Bardstown. St. Thomas Parish is where the diocese of Bardstown was established in 1808. The Bardstown Diocese is one of four carved from the original diocese of Baltimore: the others are Boston, Philadelphia and New York.

Benedict Joseph Flaget, the first bishop of Bardstown, arrived in St. Thomas Parish in 1811. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, one of Catholic Health Initiatives’ participating congregations, was founded there in 1812. The original sisters lived in a log cabin in St. Thomas Parish until they moved to their current home in Nazareth in 1822. Water from St. Thomas Spring was
a source of life and sustenance for the sisters and other courageous women and men of the frontier.

Today, St. Thomas Spring still flows generously, even in times of drought. The presence of the spring’s water at the ritual celebrating Flaget Memorial Hospital as a part of Saint Joseph Health System helped ground the event in the heritage and legacy of the sisters.

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