Society of St. Edmund | Amistad Research Center
In 1937, two Catholic priests of the Society of St. Edmund arrived in Selma, Alabama to help serve the needs of the African American community. During this year, they established the St. Elizabeth Mission which was located within the heart of the city's African American district. Throughout its tenure, the Mission expanded its reach by bringing to the community a grade school, a boys and girls club, Good Samaritan Hospital, a nursing home, and a school of the instruction for practical nurses.
Edmundites under the direction of Father Francis Casey, the first director of the Southern Missions, purchased the frame buildings of the Baptist Good Samaritan Hospital in 1943. Sister Louis Bertrand of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, New York, was named the first administrator of the hospital. In 1947, the two-story Good Samaritan Hospital was completed under the supervision of Father Norman E. Lambert; thereby establishing a milestone in the care of African Americans in Dallas County and surrounding areas. During this same year, the Don Bosco Boys Club was founded by Father Nelson B. Ziter, the immediate predecessor of Father Mauirce Ouellet. Father Ouellet was assigned to St. Elizabeth’s as pastor and superior of the Edmundites in Selma in 1961.
The Good Samaritan Hospital School of Practical Nursing, believed to be the first of its kind in Alabama, was founded by Sister Louis Bertrand in 1950.
In 1957, under the guidance of Father Eymard Galligan, the Good Samaritan Nursing Home for the Aged and Chronically Ill was added as a wing to the hospital. The 26-bed addition for the elderly replaced Holy Infant Inn, which dated back to 1943.
In 1962, the frame of the Good Samaritan Hospital was demolished. Two years later, the new four story extension of the Good Samaritan Hospital was completed. Sister Michael Ann became hospital administrator and John Wright was named her assistant. Father Crowley became director of the Edmundite Southern Missions, and Father Galligan was elected superior general of the Fathers of St. Edmund.
In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., then conducting a voter-registration drive in Selma, toured the facility as guest of Father Crowley and Father Galligan. King was presented a plaque in recognition of his outstanding work in race relations. During that same year, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent a commendation to the Good Samaritan Hospital for its role in caring for more than 50 injured African Americans who were praying before beginning the “Walk to Freedom” from Selma to Montgomery. In 1965, Cardinal Spellman presented a check to the hospital in memory of a Unitarian Universalist minister, James J. Reeb, who was fatally beaten in Selma.
The last class of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) graduated from Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing in 1970. In 1971, Father Paul A. Morin, chairman of the board, announced the acceptance of a grant of $35,000 from the RasKob Foundation. Richard Thornader was named administrator of Good Samaritan Hospital in 1972.