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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

IGNATIA, SISTER MARY, CSA - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

IGNATIA, SISTER MARY, CSA (2 Jan. 1889-1 April 1966) was one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Born Della Gavin in Shanvilly, County Mayo, Ireland, she came with her family to America at age 6. She showed proficiency in music throughout her schooling and gave lessons before entering the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in 1914. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1925, then taught music at St. Augustine Academy.

Believing her health too fragile for a teaching career, Sr. Ignatia's superiors named her to the less strenuous post of registrar at St. Thomas Hospital, Akron, in 1934. The next year she was approached by 2 recovering alcoholics who had created a new therapy for alcoholics who wished to quit drinking. She consented to give them space at the hospital and Alcoholics Anonymous was born. Sr. Ignatia gained the support of her community in her work with alcoholics. She did much to help spread the AA philosophy by counseling and assisting those who had come to St. Thomas for treatment. In 1952 she opened Rosary Hall, a ward dedicated to the treatment of alcoholics, at SAINT VINCENT CHARITY HOSPITAL AND HEALTH CENTER, Cleveland. Here she put the principles of AA into action and provided spiritual counseling coupled with group therapy and medical help for thousands of alcoholics. Sr. Ignatia died at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity in Richfield, Ohio and is buried in CALVARY CEMETERY in Cleveland.

Last Modified: 17 Jul 1997 10:13:17 AM

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