The Center for Hospital and Healthcare Administration History announces a new publication in the Hospital Administration Oral History series:
- Sister Mary Roch Rocklage, in First Person: An Oral History
Even as a girl, Antoinette Rocklage had a “nose for need,” a sensitivity to the needs of others. Growing up in a large family, she recalls having discerned that her mother rarely had time to herself to sit and read, so she decided to read aloud to her … a three-volume set for two weeks nonstop. Growing up in the close-knit community of the Baden neighborhood of north St. Louis nurtured her academic and spiritual development. After graduating high school, she entered nurses training, which she enjoyed and did well at, but where she eventually had the epiphany moment, “I don’t want to be giving enemas the rest of my life.”
While in nurses training, Antoinette Rocklage became part of a sodality, which offered opportunities to participate in different types of prayer and service. The quiet times appealed to her, and she began to sense a call toward exploring becoming a sister. She began what would become a lifelong journey with the Sisters of Mercy, which had been founded in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831 by Catherine McAuley. The Sisters of Mercy have a heart for the poor, those needing education, those needing health care, and more broadly, “anyone wounded by contemporary society.”
Antoinette Rocklage became Sister Mary Roch Rocklage, beginning a lifelong mission in leadership and guidance of health care providers under the aegis of the Sisters of Mercy. Her early administrative experience was with St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, where she served as director of nursing service and then as president. In the 1980s, Sister Roch became provincial administrator of the Sisters of Mercy St. Louis Province where she participated in the creation of the Sisters of Mercy Health System. She was the first CEO of the system, now known simply as Mercy, and continues to work there today as the Health Ministry Liaison.
In her oral history, Sister Roch discusses the events of her career and the people she met, not only in the St. Louis area, but also in her role as chair of the American Hospital Association Board of Trustees in 2002. Among her accomplishments at the Sisters of Mercy Health System was recognition of the decline in the number of women religious and the need to transition to lay leadership. She discusses how the system made this transition and yet retained ties to the order.
The full text of this new oral history is available at no charge on the Center website at http://www.aha.org/chhah. Other recent oral history interviews that can be found on the website include that of Howard J. Berman, Paul M. Ellwood, Jr., M.D., John R. Griffith, Richard J. Davidson, Gail L. Warden, Ruth Rothstein, and Wade Mountz.
The Center for Hospital and Healthcare Administration History was established by the American Hospital Association and the American College of Healthcare Executives and is coordinated by the AHA Resource Center in collaboration with the Health Research & Educational Trust. For more information about the Center and its programs, visit the website or contact Jeanette Harlow, director, at (312) 422-2050.