Sister M. Gerald, CSC,
pioneer in healthcare finance, dies at 98
Notre Dame, Indiana — Sister M. Gerald (Maura Josephine Hartney), CSC, who was a pioneer in the development of healthcare financial management systems in the United States, died at age 98 on September 10 at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Ind. Sister Gerald employed her financial acuity and keen stewardship as a participant in developing the principles of Medicare’s early legislation and was a sought-after financial management consultant to U.S. healthcare institutions, as well as religious congregations, and Roman Catholic bishops and dioceses in the U.S. and Africa.
Born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1910, Sister Gerald’s lifelong finance ministry began in 1932 as an accountant at Holy Cross Sanatorium in Deming, N.M. Her nearly 70 years of leadership included serving as an organizing member of the present-day Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA); a national consultant and lecturer for both the Catholic Hospital Association (now the Catholic Health Association) and Stewardship Services, Inc., an organization in Washington, D.C., that had provided financial consulting for religious communities and institutions; and as director of finance and coordinator of pastoral planning for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
“Through her vision and commitment to healthcare ministry, Sister Gerald led the way in bringing systemic change to the financial operations of hospitals in the United States, particularly in cost accounting, centralized purchasing and cash management,” said Sister Joy O’Grady, CSC, president of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. “She was wonderfully gifted in finance, and she gladly shared her wisdom — not only within our Holy Cross family, but with many other religious congregations, dioceses and healthcare organizations across the country and around the world.
“Sister Gerald had a great desire to be of service and share the Gospel,” said Sister Joy, noting that Sister Gerald lent her financial expertise to the Family Rosary Crusade (now Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Mass.), a ministry that helps to support the spiritual well-being of families. For six years she was special assistant to the organization’s president, Father Patrick Peyton, CSC.
In national circles, Sister Gerald was well known for her pioneering efforts in securing Social Security benefits for religious. She also was an active participant in the early years of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), known then as the American Association of Hospital Accountants (AAHA). She was one of the organizing members of AAHA, serving as the elected president in 1954 and 1955.
Sister Gerald received many honors, including induction in Modern Healthcare’s Health Care Hall of Fame in 2002 for her lifelong contributions to healthcare, and in 1984 she received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, the highest honor given to non-ordained persons by the Catholic Church.
Over a span of 40 years, Sister Gerald contributed her financial expertise to healthcare organizations and through her leadership roles with the Sisters of the Holy Cross, including serving 18 years as general treasurer of the congregation. In Holy Cross-sponsored hospitals, she served as chief financial officer at Saint Agnes Hospital in Fresno, Calif., Holy Cross Hospital in San Fernando, Calif., and Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she later served as chief executive officer.
Sister Gerald was educated in Catholic schools in Ireland and at the Limerick Municipal Institute. She received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., and an honorary Master of Science degree from the now closed Dunbarton College in Washington, D.C.
About the Sisters of the Holy Cross
Founded in 1841 in Le Mans, France, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross is an international community of women religious whose generalate is located in Notre Dame, Ind. The congregation numbers approximately 450 members worldwide who serve in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, India, Mexico, Peru, Uganda and the United States. Sisters of the Holy Cross are called to participate in the prophetic mission of Jesus to witness God’s love for all creation. Their ministries focus on providing education and health care services, eradicating material poverty, ending gender discrimination, and promoting just, mutual relationships among people, countries and the entire Earth community.