Diocesan News

Sister Barbara Ann Dies at 97 Founder of Pastoral Care Department at St. Elizabeth Medical Center Remembered for Decades of Support of Suffering

(SNR) - On Tuesday, Jan. 18, Sister Barbara Ann Braun, O.S.F., died at the Mount Saint Francis Nursing Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was 97 years old.

Sister Barbara Ann was a perennial source of comfort, love and prayer at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center for many years.

Born in Humphrey Oct. 20, 1913, she was the seventh of William and Barbara (German) Braun’s 14 children. She was baptized LaVerna Anna.

When she was just 17 years old, her infant sister, Barbara Ann, died. On that night, LaVerna told her parents that she wanted to become a nurse and a religious sister. Two years later, she entered the Franciscan Community in Lafayette, Ind., taking the name Barbara Ann in memory of the baby girl her family had lost.

Sister Barbara Ann graduated from the Saint Elizabeth School of Nursing in Lafayette, Ind., in 1939. She later earned her BSN in Nursing Education from Saint Louis University and her master’s degree in nursing administration from the Catholic University of America.

In 1977, Sister Barbara Ann was certified as a hospital chaplain. She worked in various maternity and pediatric nursing departments as well as administrative positions at hospitals in Denver, Grand Island and Lincoln.

At Saint Elizabeth Medical Center, Sister Barbara Ann founded the Pastoral Care Department, which she directed for more than two decades. She trained and inspired numerous others to offer spiritual support to those who were suffering.

Hers were the eyes of joy when she saw a newborn baby. Hers were the hands of comfort as she reached out to console a suffering patient. Hers was the voice of hope as she prayed for those who were dying.

Sister Barbara Ann was well known for her seemingly endless energy.

"She really was very active," said Sister Rosemarie, O.S.F.

In addition to starting and directing pastoral care at the hospital, Sister Barbara Ann founded the parish nursing program in Nebraska, co-founded Birthright, and helped start a Fresh Start Home in Lincoln for homeless single women.

She offered her wisdom to numerous organizations, including the Lincoln Axis Business and Professional Women’s Club, Lincoln Police and Fire Chaplaincy Corps, the Lincoln Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, Lincoln Right to Life and the Saint Elizabeth Auxiliary, among others.

Sister Barbara Ann also had a pivotal role in preserving the original Saint Elizabeth Hospital chapel, now known as Saint Francis Chapel.

"She was able to do all those things because of her prayer life and her relationship with Christ," observed Sister Rosemarie.

Even after she retired to the motherhouse in Colorado Springs at the age of 90, Sister Barbara Ann did not give up visiting the sick. She would make her way through the Mount Saint Francis Nursing Center to offer encouragement and love to the patients.

Sister Rosemarie had the benefit of visiting with Sister Barbara Ann whenever she journeyed back to the motherhouse.

"In the last four months or so, I could tell she was changing, because she talked about living in the sacrament of the present moment," Sister Rosemarie said. "I knew she was preparing herself."

Sister Barbara Ann’s focus on living every moment of her life for Christ was an inspiration. Her sincere, "God love you," echoes in the memories of everyone who met her.

She is survived by two brothers, two sisters, and more than 30 nieces and nephews. Memorials in her honor may be made to the Sisters of Saint Francis, 7665 Assisi Heights, Colorado Springs, CO 80919; or the Saint Elizabeth Foundation, 555 S 70th Street, Lincoln, NE 68510, earmarked either Chapel Renovation Fund or Patient Hardship Fund.

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