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Rochester, a city of 200,000 people in the southeast corner of Minnesota, is the home of the Mayo Clinic, an 150 year old institution that has grown to become one of the largest and most respected medical institutions in the world. It now attracts over one million patients to its facilities from all 50 states and nearly 150 countries. Unbeknownst to the general public, this medical giant was established by a group of religious sisters back in the late 1800’s.
The Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Lourdes still reside in Rochester. Their congregation, Assisi Heights, is perched up on a hill in northwest Rochester, surrounded by suburban neighborhoods. There are around 300 sisters living in Assisi Heights, although a large proportion of these sisters are retired. Nonetheless, the group of sisters continues in its ministries, and remain an important presence in Saint Marys Hospital and in the community as a whole.