An Open Letter to the Franciscan Sisters of Mary ,from the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City, regarding the proposed move of St. Anthony Hospital.

Jaequeline Moetzel, FSM
President, Franciscan Sisters of Mary
1100 Bellevue Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63117

Dear Sister Moetzel:

After hearing of the proposal to move St. Anthony's hospital in Oklahoma City, I visited your order's website to learn more about your order and its charism. There I read these beautiful words of wisdom:

"As Franciscan Sisters of Mary, we live the Gospel as sister to all. We give our life by being present, hospitable, and compassionate, choosing to stand with our sisters and brothers who are poor and on the margins of society. . . In the spirit of St. Francis, the Franciscan Sisters of Mary are committed to supporting a world of justice, peace, and nonviolence. . . We accept the challenge of the poor calling us to conversion, service, and solidarity; we choose an option for the poor knowing full well it requires changes in unjust political, economic, and social structure. We dedicate ourselves to heal the wounded and make decisions in light of what our choices will do to, for, and with our brothers and sisters who are poor and marginalized, especially women and children."

These words speak eloquently of the demands of the Gospel upon our lives, our decisions, and our material possessions. Thus, if indeed these words describe your charism, I cannot understand why St. Anthony's Hospital would consider, much less publicly announce, a proposal to move from its present location in a poor, inner city neighborhood to a new site in one of the richest zip codes in this state! You already live next door to Jesus, why do you desire to flee his holy Presence?

According to your own words, you are to make decisions in light of the demands of the Gospel and the impacts of those decision upon the poor, yet according to the newspaper in Oklahoma City, you are acting like just another culture of death health corporation; your desire to build a "robust campus" that will endure another 100 years apparently trumping the needs of the poor and marginalized of your present neighborhood.

You say you want to be in solidarity with the poor, especially single mothers with children. How does fleeing their presence, and moving to a location in a far away "upscale" neighborhood, which isn't even served by public transportation, show your solidarity with poor single mothers?

You say you recognize the need for a change in unjust structures, yet you yourselves are publicly contemplating doing structural violence to the poor who are your own neighbors!

Here is what your choice will do to the poor in Oklahoma City: it will make health care even less accessible, and since everybody knows why you are going -- your local representatives have been all over the local media, "we don't like this area because it is poor and shabby and there are prostitutes" - it will further demoralize the poor. You will treat fewer poor people, because it will be next to impossible for them to find you.

Please tell me, exactly and in detail, how abandoning the poor in the inner city for an upscale suburb manifests "solidarity with the poor". Indeed, even as I write these words your representatives are hard at work here in Oklahoma City demonizing their neighbors and the neighborhood. When I think of what I have read yesterday and today, and then what I have read on your website, well, there is a major cognitive dissonance between your flowery website rhetoric and the harsh culture of death rhetoric of your Oklahoma City representatives.

We deliver food to people in need who don't have transportation to get to a regular food bank and we know some of your neighbors personally. Do not cruelly abandon them in this hour of their great need. On behalf of the poor who are your neighbors, and in the name of the saints Francis of Assisi and Dorothy Day of New York, we beg you to keep your hospital at its present location. Be true to the charisms bequeathed to you by your founders and the sisters who have gone before you. Turn away from the blandishments of the culture of death, and live up to the words you have chosen to present to the world as descriptions of your work and ministry. Keep the faith, Franciscan Sisters of Mary, keep the faith!

Praying God's blessings for all of you, on this the feast of St. Benedict, in the year of Grace 2003, I remain,.

Your brother in service to the poor,

Robert Waldrop
1524 NW 21, Oklahoma City, OK 73106
405 557 0436

cc: Most Reverend Eusebius Beltran, Archbishop of Oklahoma City,
Clergy and Parishes of the Archdiocese

This letter has been posted to the internet at .``