Sister Virginia Mary Barta was the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters’ Provincial, or head of the province, when the idea of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital came to be in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The concept of creating a rehabilitation hospital came to the Sisters during a time of great cultural change in the late 1960s.
Marianjoy was built from 1968 to 1970, designed as an extended care facility for the sisters but the sisters soon realized it was much bigger than they needed. They then decided to offer extended care to the community as well.
Even after opening up the facility to the community, the sisters felt that something was missing. In 1971, several physicians from the local acute care hospital met with the Sisters to ask them to consider changing Marianjoy into a physical rehabilitation hospital. At the time, there were only two rehabilitation hospitals in Illinois and a few small rehab units in acute care hospitals – but none in the western suburbs of Chicago.
Sister Mary Thomas Kolba took over as the Provincial in 1972 and led the task of getting the new rehabilitation hospital up and running. Others who made a contribution to the hospital’s beginnings included Sister Barbara DeWindt, an experienced hospital administrator, and Dr. Roger Pesch, the hospital’s first medical director.
The name Marianjoy came about as a result of the blending of the Marian tradition, referring to the sisters being the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the joy reflecting not only the philosophy of St. Francis but also the joy felt throughout the religious community in offering this new service.
Last updated: December 2015