Catholic Sisters' Healthcare Legacy in Colorado

Honoring the People Who Created What We've Inherited

Catholic Sisters in healthcare were committed to going where there were people who were underserved — with special attention to the poor and those who had no one else take care of them.

Beginning in 1873, nineteen communities of Sisters came to Colorado and helped build the humanitarian healthcare system that we've inherited. Many of these Sisters founded and/or staffed hospitals and nursing schools for the people of Colorado.

Some of the Sisters established orphanages where they could provide a home, an education, and both physical and mental healthcare to children who were on their own for a wide variety of reasons. Other Sisters provided homes, care, and training for at-risk young women.

Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth

  • Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver, 1873-present
  • St. Vincent's Hospital, Leadville, 1879-1972
  • St. Mary's Hospital, Grand Junction, 1896-present
  • St. Joseph's Sanatorium, Glenwood Springs, 1899-1900
  • Caritas Clinic, Denver, 1967-present
  • Sister Joanna Bruner Family Medicine Center, Denver, 1969-present
  • Marillac Clinic, Grand Junction, 1988-present
  • Seton Women's Center, Denver, 2003-present

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

  • St. Joseph's Hospital, Georgetown, 1880-1914

Sisters of Mercy

Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

The evolution in Pueblo and Colorado Springs was complex, including some changes of name and minor and then major mergers along the way.


  • St. Mary's Hospital, 1882-1957
  • Corwin Hospital, 1948-1957
  • St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, 1957-present
  • Mount San Rafael Hospital, 1889-1969
Colorado Springs:
  • Glockner Sanatorium, 1890-1946
  • Glockner-Penrose Hospital, 1946-1959
  • Penrose Hospital, 1959-1990
  • Penrose-St. Francis Hospital, 1990-present
Cañon City:
  • St. Thomas More Hospital, 1994-present
In 1996 the Sisters of Charity Healthcare Systems became part of Catholic Health Initiatives; at that point the Sisters of Charity no longer sponsored hospitals. Since 1996, St. Mary-Corwin in Pueblo, Penrose-St. Francis in Colorado Springs, and St. Thomas More in Cañon City are only connected to the Sisters of Charity through their position on the Catholic Health Initiatives board.

Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration

In March 1987 the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration of Colorado Springs agreed to transfer their healthcare facilities — in Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Denver, Lincoln, Kearney and Grand Island — to the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, effective July 1, 1987. The last Franciscan Sisters working at hospitals in Colorado retired in 2011, when St. Anthony Hospital moved to its new campus.

Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, Chicago

  • St. Joseph's Hospital, Breckenridge, 1886-1890
  • Assisted at St. Mary's Hospital, Pueblo, during 1918 flu epidemic
  • Assisted at St. Thomas More Hospital, Cañon City, during 1918 flu epidemic

Franciscan Sisters, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

  • St. Clara's Orphanage, Denver, 1890-1968
  • Sacred Heart Orphanage, Pueblo, 1903-1981

In 1890, the Franciscan Sisters from Wheaton, Illinois, opened their orphanage at 952 Tenth Street in Denver, which is now on the Auraria Campus. In 1903, they opened Sacred Heart Orphanage at 2316 Sprague Street in Pueblo.

Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

  • Queen of Heaven Orphanage, Denver, 1905-1965

Mother Francesca Saverio Cabrini built her orphanage on what had been a farm at West 48th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. In 1946, Mother Cabrini, who became a US citizen in 1909, became the first American citizen to be declared a saint.

Sisters of Saint Joseph of Wichita, Kansas

  • St. Joseph's Hospital, Del Norte, 1907-1993

Little Sisters of the Poor

  • Mullen Home for the Aged, Denver, 1917-present

Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor

  • Dominican Home Health Services, Denver, 1923-present

Sisters of Saint Francis of Rochester, Minnesota

Benedictine Sisters of Sioux City, Iowa

  • St. Benedict Hospital, Sterling, 1929-1960

Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, South Dakota

  • St. Thomas More Hospital, Cañon City, 1938-1994

Sisters of Loretto

  • Loretto Heights College Nursing Program, 1941-1988

In the summer of 1988, Loretto Heights College closed, and its nursing program moved to Regis University, where it became the foundation for the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions.

Dominican Sisters of Great Bend, Kansas

  • Sacred Heart Hospital, Lamar, 1946-1967

Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery, Covington, Kentucky

  • St. Joseph Hospital, Florence, 1946-?
  • Santa Fe Hospital, La Junta, 1950-1963

Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis

Missionaries of Charity of Calcutta, India

  • Seton House, Denver, a home for AIDS patients, 1990-2009

Mother Teresa had visited Denver in 1989 and agreed to establish a healthcare facility for the poor and homeless.

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