Pioneer Sisters Catherine Wymbs, Mary Rodgers and Ann Geraghty arrived
to open a hospital in November 1925. This farming community of eastern
central Alberta was founded by central European settlers when the
railroad reached the area. In 1920, Vilna was named after the city of
Father George Daly purchased a vacant Bank of Commerce building and in
less than a month, it was converted into a nine-bed hospital, named Our
In 1928, a new two-storey 14-bed stucco hospital was built. In the early
years, the hospital provided milk and eggs for the patients from its own
mini farm. Strong ties united the hospital with the surrounding area,
seen through the annual Hospital Days and the hospital’s Ladies
Auxiliary, who organized fundraising projects to improve the hospital
facilities and to purchase new equipment. An advisory board was formed
to assist in dealing with government and the municipalities.
Outside the hospital, the Sisters participated and promoted parish life,
taught weekly religion classes and organized religious vacation schools
in the area. Foundress Sister Catherine Donnelly taught in the two-room
Vilna Public School (1926-1929). Sister Mary Halder (1964-1967) served
as a public health nurse with the St. Paul Public Unit of the
Northeastern Alberta Health Unit, based in Vilna.
In 1970, the hospital’s ownership was transferred from the Sisters of
Service to the municipality of Vilna and the mission was closed. After
retiring from teaching in 1984, Sister Barbara Kowalski retired to her
hometown as a community volunteer, visiting the sick and seniors as well
as giving religious instruction. She died in Vilna in 2005.