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Texas History: Bold vision

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 were well respected for their ministry to the infirm in San Antonio, Texas.

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 the Alamo City. These amazing servants of the Lord eventually started a hospital which grew into the nationally known Santa Rosa Medical Center. But, they needed more land in order to build an orphanage.

They noticed 40 prime acres on the San Antonio River that would be perfect for their plans. In their research, they discovered that George Brackenridge owned the land. So, after prayer, the three sisters made the appointment with him.

The Brackenridge family had moved to Texas from Indiana, and by 1869, George 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 amazing 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 for $120,000. Surprisingly, they never missed a payment!

Eventually, the Sisters built Santa Rosa hospital where I was born, and launched the University of the Incarnate Word. Today, the university School of Nursing is esteemed nationwide. Because the three Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word had daring vision and deep faith in God, great things have been accomplished.

As you enter 2021, may this amazing story from Texas history encourage you to look beyond your everyday life, and to capture the new vision God may have for you. He is still looking for souls who are eager to receive His Word of wisdom and direction.

Some may say “let the rich do it.” But, as you can see in this story, God honored three obscure women who willingly stepped out of the shadows and boldly accomplished great things for God. As Proverbs 15:16 KJV says, “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble."

Remember 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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