Sister Mary Catherine Sullivan on Carville

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Sister Mary Catherine Sullivan on Carville


Sister Mary Catherine Sullivan


Daughters of Charity Ministries, Inc.




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Carville, LA - Hansen's Disease Center, RG 11-2-8-4, Audio-visual, Cassette tape of interview on Carville & patients with Hansens Disease presented by Sister Catherine Sullivan, DC, Box 48, Folder 10

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Original Format

Cassette tape




The greatest suffering of patients with Hansen’s disease is not the disease itself, and out of a thousand patients with which I came into contact during my twenty-one years there, this– this falling apart, this dying on the installment plan, was not borne out in a single case.
It’s true– It is true, an advanced case of Hansen’s disease, where it is very active, is– well we would say not pretty, but I’ve seen advanced cases of cancer, advanced cases of venereal diseases that could equally offend. But the tragedy is that the general public associates with the word ‘leper’, which we never use. I think it is a blasphemy against a human being to use it, and leprosy, they associate all it is and that necessarily follows, and there is no other disease in the world in which we identify the patient, we wipe out his personality, and nothing is left of him but what the disease is.
And it– This has come down to us for six thousand years, and even the medical profession– It does not seem to have occurred, at least to any large number of them, that they are still operating under a law that was made six thousand years ago, and that by a man who was not a physician. It was made by Moses “without the camp shall his dwelling be.” And so in this enlightened day and age, particularly enlightened in the medical scene, we still hear, in the United States, will take a man, woman, and even a little child and imprison that person for life because they happen to be sick.
It is true, they get– I would say luxurious treatment. Not only is everything done for them in Carville in the way of medicine and surgery and treatment of all sorts, but they are given the very best in clothing, in food, in entertainment. They have the finest dance floor in the state. They have golf links. They have a lake. They have a swimming pool. But sisters, it is as true today as the day that Patrick Henry said it: “Give me liberty or give me death.” The fact that they have to stay there, it’s a fly in the ointment, it’s a rip within the loop, it’s everything out of it.



Sister Mary Catherine Sullivan, “Sister Mary Catherine Sullivan on Carville,” Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise Archives, accessed March 4, 2024,