OSU president visits Sacred Heart Home

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Written by BILL COOK, Director of Development, Little Sisters of the Poor   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 04:00
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OREGON—True to his word, Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee visited the Sacred Heart Home as a stop on his summer tour of the state of Ohio. 

With all the fanfare of a pep rally and a football tailgate party, the OSU Student Life Team arrived early Aug. 17 to set up for an enthusiastic reception for Dr. Gee. With spirited music playing and cheers of “O-H-I-O” being done by the sisters, residents and others, Dr. Gee received a warm welcome to the home.

E. Gordon Gee, president of the Ohio State University, shows off a new bow tie with the Little Sisters of the Poor logo on one side and OSU on the other given to him by Mother Cecilia Sartorius. Dr. Gee visited the Little Sisters' Sacred Heart Home in August. (Photo courtesy of Little sisters of the Poor)

The visit stemmed from a gaffe Dr. Gee made last fall, when he commented to the effect that OSU didn’t play “Little Sisters of the Poor Teams.” Dr. Gee apologized for his mistake and said publicly that he didn’t truly know that the Little Sisters of the Poor even existed.  As a way to make up for his error, Dr. Gee promised to visit the Little Sisters and have them down to OSU for a football game.

The sisters can now be assured, after his visit to the Sacred Heart Home, that Dr. Gee not only knows the Little Sisters do exist, but flourish in their mission of caring for the elderly poor.

In a spirited day full of smiles and cheers, Dr. Gee and others from OSU toured the home and met many of the elderly residents.

On meeting one resident, Mary Zsigray, 101, Dr. Gee exclaimed. “Whatever she’s drinking, I’m going to start drinking!”

Little Sister of the Poor Mother Cecilia Mary Sartorius said Dr. Gee was able to experience the happiness of the home’s residents and understand more deeply the mission of the Little Sisters. She added that “sometimes out of inadvertent humor comes great deeds.”

Dr. Gee promised to continue an ongoing collaboration of OSU with the Little Sisters. In the short term this new friendship has brought about much needed public awareness of the sisters’ mission of caring for the elderly poor.  The local OSU extension office of Lucas County has also agreed to offer nutrition awareness and diabetes classes to residents and hold a pruning workshop on the grounds of the home in the future. In addition, the OSU extension offices will hold a fundraiser for the Little Sisters in December.

At a press conference during Dr. Gee’s visit, Mother Sartorius commented that while the alumni of the Little Sisters pass on to heaven, the alumni of OSU could benefit by donating their support to the Little Sisters and in turn they would be prayed for so that they too would someday join the Little Sisters alumni. As the crowd laughed and cheered, Mother Sartorius whispered to Dr. Gee and he said, “Did you hear that, I’m forgiven!”

Coyle Funeral HomeThe sisters presented Dr. Gee with a handmade bow tie to add to his collection. The bow tie had the Little Sisters logo embroidered on one side and “OSU” on the other. Dr. Gee, who has more than 2,000 bow ties, commented that this bow tie “may be the most important because it has my redemption written all over it.”  He ended by saying that he plans to continue his relationship with the Little Sisters “now that my day of penance is over.”

The Little Sisters are now preparing to attend an OSU football game Sept. 10, traveling with some residents to Columbus as guests of Dr. Gee.

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