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Gifts of Her Spirit


Published by Mayo Clinic Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A poignant collection of poems written by a dedicated Franciscan sister and the former hospital administrator of Saint Marys Hospital during a lifetime of dedication, this is a work that celebrates the seasons of life and brings insight—and a smile—to readers everywhere.

During her fifty-five-year career at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, Sister Mary Brigh Cassidy remained a common person with uncommon capabilities. To whatever position she held, she brought a business acumen that was legendary, though she was quick to dismiss her extraordinary gifts for leadership as ordinary. Even though she worked tirelessly as the hospital administrator, caring for patients and leading the hospital through unparalleled growth, she found time at the end of her busy days to write poetry and reflect on spirituality, nature, and a life dedicated to service. 

Composed between the years of 1928 and 1968, the poems in Gifts of Her Spirit paint a picture of life through the Great Depression, World War II and post-war events—though, like Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen, Cassidy created her own world of words that was parallel to, but separate from, the great events around her. Her poetry often uses images from nature to capture the beauty and poignancy found in the seasons of the church and in the seasons of life—each with its own purpose, challenges, and rewards. 

Gifts of Her Spirit is a curation of approximately sixty of Cassidy’s poems, all arranged according to the Liturgical Calendar of the Catholic Church. From limericks to meditations, they gesture gently to the beauty of nature’s surroundings, provide strength for life’s challenges, and encourage the reader to look within themselves and to eternity. 

For those who knew Cassidy, her life itself was a gift of the Spirit. For those who read these poems, the wonder of that gift is revealed through her words.

About The Author

Sister Mary Brigh Cassidy, O.S.F., lived and worked at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota for fifty-five years. After graduating from the Saint Marys School of Nursing, she became a Franciscan Sister, received a Masters in Nursing from The Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. Through her religious and health care service, she became a cornerstone in the growth and development of Saint Marys and its partnership with the Mayo Clinic. Even throughout her busy days, she found quiet moments to reflect and write about her experiences with patients, colleagues, nature, and her deep spirituality. Two of Sister Mary Brigh’s friends, Sister Lauren Weinandt, O.S.F. and Jane K Campion, safeguarded her complete works and selected a collection of her poems for this book.

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