The idea to establish the St. Joseph´s Catholic Hospital in Liberia was conceived in 1962 during the visit to Liberia by the Provincial Father Francisco Carrasco from the Order of Saint John of God in Spain, as guest of Bishop Francis Carroll of the Catholic Church in Liberia.
Previously, in 1956, President William V. S. Tubman had requested from Pope Pius XII that the Catholic Church established a Hospital and Medical school in the country.
These two great missionaries and religious leaders concluded their meeting with plans to build and staff a hospital in Liberia. Then, Bishop Carroll informed President William V. S. Tubman about the plans proposed by the Provincial, and ensured the Government´s support in this project.
August 23, 1963
The Province of Castilla of the Order in Spain accepted the challenge and sent the first Brothers to Monrovia on August 23, 1963. They started the St. Joseph´s Catholic Hospital in a small building located in Tubman Boulevard in Sinkor, where the Stryker Funeral Parlour is nowadays. This building was previously used by the Vianini Construction Company as its clinic. This was a temporary place for the opening of the Hospital until Mrs. M. Eva McGill Hilton, a great humanitarian Liberian, generously donated a suitable parcel of land of 33 1/2 acres, where the present Hospital was built up and dedicated in September 1, 1967, by President Tubman and Bishop Carroll.
May 1, 1965
The foundation stone of the present Hospital was laid on May 1, 1965. The building was to cost two million USD and constructed within 12 months. On December 8, 1966, feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the new hospital was blessed and the patients were transferred from the Vianini Clinic to the Catholic Hospital. On January 24, 1967, President Tubman accompanied by Ministers of Government, Diplomats, Superiors of the Order and local Church authorities officially inaugurated the Hospital.
Three months later, on April 21, 1967, the first Sisters of the Immaculate Conception arrived in Monrovia to work in the St. Joseph´s Catholic Hospital.
From the “Libro de Monrovia” (diary of the Community):
“As in any beginning, first years were tough in the Hospital from different points of view: lack of education, lack of resources, cultural and social disbelief… but in spite of that, The Province of Castilla took an active role becoming present giving all its support with any kind of help in this hard venture. With the disadvantage of the distance, mainly sending goods to let us serve and assist so many needy people in Monrovia, in the name of Church we keep on giving presence and testimony as workers of the Kingdom of Love to the neighbor, established by Jesus among men, our brothers, as our Father did in Granada.”
From the very beginning, one of the aims of the Order was to employ Liberians and help the people from this country to be trained as doctors, nurses and health workers. We are further honoured and pleased to have included in our hospital staff the first permanent full-time Medical Doctor, Dr. Samuel Bowman, a highly respected Gynaecologist/Obstetrician, or Mrs. Rose E. Tweh, the first Liberian Nursing Director.
September 12, 1977
With funds obtained in charity collections in Madrid by the Order, a plot and a house is bought in New Kru Town. The budget for the Health Center is $15,000.
April 14, 1979
Participants in a demostration assault shops, looted and kill 100 people. Many injured people are taken to our Hospital.
April 12, 1980
“Coup d´Etat in Liberia at 2 a.m. The Hospital and the Communities start to see the effects from early: the President is dead, many injured, former political officers killed, curfew, gunshots all around. Lack of security and control. The Superior is threatened by a former employee with a submachine gun in his office. The Minister of Justice sends soldiers and policemen who force the attackers to lay down arms, and take them with the employee to testify. Our forgiveness lets them off from being executed, and after they promise not to attack or disturb the Brothers again, they are released.”
August 2, 1988
25th Anniversary of the Hospital. At 6 p.m. the Hospital Director opens the center, and Mr. Leonard T. Deshield, HR Chief reads a brief historic text. On behalf of the President, the Protocol Chief Officer reads an affidavit in which the title of Grand Commander Of The Liberian Humane Order Of African Redemption is given to the Order of Saint John of God, represented by Brother Justino Izquierdo. That day a conmemorative stamp was released by the Post Service, with the sentence “25 Years of Health” and values of $1, $0.35 and $0.10.
September 1, 1988
The outbuilding of New Kru Town Healt Center is opened. It was funded by Spanish ONG Manos Unidas.
December 24, 1989
War breaks out. Rebel troops enter through Nimba and military crackdown.
July 2, 1990
War arrives at Monrovia. The entire country is controlled by Charles Taylor´s troops with exception of Monrovia, where there is a fiery resistance.
August 11, 1990
The Brothers are forced to leave Monrovia.
November 16, 1990
The Brothers fly by helicopter to Monrovia and visit the Hospital escorted by with 8 men –a catholic and a baptist chaplain among them–, with the Bishop. All the journey is distressing: fiery combats´ signs in the buildings, intentional destruction, houses without roof and windows…
May 7, 1991
Official re-opening of the Hospital. Acting President Amos Sowya assists to a humble event without any celebration. Apart from the peak of the fighting from August 11st, 1990 to May 7th, 1991, when the hospital was temporarily closed and suffered great destruction and looting, the Saint Joseph´s Catholic Hospital was the only functioning hospital in Monrovia during the war.
October 31, 1992
Five American nuns and four Liberian novices are shooted to death by rebels. Three of the Americans´ corpses stayed at the morgue of Saint Joseph´s Catholic Hospital for one month until the other two were found.
February 20, 1994
Dr. Lily Sanvee replaces Dr. Bowman as Medical Director.
April 6, 1996
Chaos in Monrovia. Government soliders tray to arrest General Johnson. The Hospital becomes a refuge for missionaries and priests until ECOMOG forces evacuate them.
October 4, 1996
The General Vicar of the Archdiocese shows the Brothers and Sisters the most deep gratitude from the Archbishop, priests and religious for the service of hospitality and humanity they have been providing during the war. “Their doors were always open to everyone in the most tough moments, when the refugees didn´t have a place to go”.
The battles were ended by the Abuja Accord in Nigeria, agreeing to disarmament and demobilization by 1997 and elections in July of that year.
The Hospital is recognized as the best hospital of year 1998.
Liberian dissidents invaded the country from Guinea, and the Second Civil war breaks out.
Between July 18 and August 14, 2003, Monrovia suffered a major military confrontation between the Armed Forces of Liberia and rebels. The shelling of the city resulted in the deaths of some 1,000 civilians. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict. By mid-August, after a two-month siege, Liberian president went into exile and peacekeepers arrived.
October 17, 2005
Brother José Sebastian is sick and very feeble and is evacuated to Spain. He died in less than a month in his 67 years. The Government of the Republic of Liberia announced the death with profound regret and mourning.
The Order helds the African Regional Conference in Lome, Togo, where it´s taken the decision of Liberia, SIerra Leona and Zambia to be under the management and support of “mother” Provinces for 5 years. The Spanish Province of Castille gets the responsability of running the Saint Joseph´s Catholic Hospital.
October 30, 2007
Representatives of the Castillan and African Provinces arrived at Monrovia and meet with the Community. For the first time, Hospital Direction will be put in a lay´s hands. Dr. Lily Sanvee is appointed the first Liberian Hospital Director.
The works on renovation of the Hospital start.
January 18, 2008
After 35 years in Monrovia, Brother Justino goes back to Spain.
March 8, 2009
Maria Teresa Fernández de la Vega, Vice-president of Spain, visits the Hospital and the New Kru Town Health Center.
Renovation works on the hospital are finished, 5 million Euros worth, with funds from Castillan Province and Spanish NGOs.