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GOD & TEXAS: Three Sisters

It must have been quite a scene when the three Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word met with real estate tycoon George Washington Brackenridge. The year was 1896, and the three Sisters of Charity had become well respected for their ministry to the infirm in San Antonio.

After the Civil war, San Antonio was ravaged with an outbreak of cholera. Galveston Bishop Claude Dubuis assigned three of the convent sisters to care for the sick in San Antonio. These amazing servants of the Lord eventually started a hospital which grew into the nationally commended Christus Santa Rosa Medical Center. But, because they also wanted to build an orphanage, they needed more land.

The sisters noticed 40 prime acres of land on the San Antonio River that would be perfect for their plans. In their research, they discovered that George Brackenridge owned the land, and that he always drove a hard bargain. After prayer, the three sisters made the appointment with the successful landowner.

The Brackenridge family had moved to Texas from Indiana, and by 1869, he had become wealthy in cotton, railroads, factories, and publishing companies. The national bank that he founded held the titles to real estate all over Bexar County, and people knew that unless you had the backing of George Brackenridge, doing business would be tough.

Led by Mother Madeleine, the three sisters told Brackenridge that they wanted to purchase part of his beloved Alamo Heights estate. He had already built an impressive three-story Victorian mansion on the property and named it “Fernridge.” Only God would get him to move.

After hearing their story, Brackenridge told them that he would not sell them the 40 acres. He said that they would have to buy the total 280 acres or nothing at all. They responded with “yes,” and took out a 25 year loan. Surprisingly, they never missed a payment!

Eventually, the sisters built the acclaimed hospital where I was born, and launched the University of the Incarnate Word. Today, its School of Nursing is known nationwide. Because people of bold vision and deep faith trusted God, great things have been accomplished.

In the year ahead, I challenge you to pray for a bold vision that will bring glory to God. You may say “let the rich do it.” But, as you can see in this story, it took three obscure women to step out of the shadows and boldly accomplish great things for God.

As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV, “For we walk by faith, not by sight!”

Doubt less. Trust more. Let God work through you. Miracles still happen!

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