The Good Samaritan Hospital had deep roots and ties to the Catholic community of Zanesville. In 1900, Rev. Anthony Leininger, then pastor of St. Nicholas Church, Zanesville, invited the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, of Manitowoc, Wisconsin to send nuns to be nurses and to run the Margaret Blue Sanitarium. Soon, with the sanitarium filled to capacity, and expansion of the building not an option, Father Leininger and Mother Alexia of the Franciscan Sisters found a house on Laurel Avenue a better possibility for expansion. The new facility was named The Good Samaritan Hospital. Along with the hospital was built a convent to house the sisters, a school of nursing, which over the years was to have many graduates, and of course the hospital chapel.
The Good Samaritan Hospital officially closed in 2015. In the back wing on the 2nd floor, was the St Francis Chapel. This chapel was named in the honor of the patron of the religious order who serviced the hospital for well over a century. Although officially a Catholic chapel, it welcomed many of all faiths for prayer, meditation and a place of comfort. Many nurses, doctors, staff, patients and their families brought their joys, sorrows, and worries there.
After the official closure last year, the question came up of the future of the chapel and its furnishings. The new Genesis Hospital at the old Bethesda campus had its own new and beautifully furnished chapel. The Columbus Catholic Diocese had a museum, The Jubilee Museum in downtown Columbus. They expressed the desire for the furnishings to display and maybe re-distribute to another Catholic parish. Only a few items would have been on display and the rest would have been in a warehouse, or sent to other locations. About this time, Franciscan Sister Laura Wolfe received a call from a former student about the possibility of keeping the chapel furnishings in the county at St. Mary Church, just north of the Zanesville city limits.
St. Mary was built in 1856 mainly by the descendants of the Mattingly family. It is a small church with seating of around 170. In those 160 years, the members have had no restroom facilities, just old-fashioned outhouses, and later, portable toilets. The original outhouse building was slowly being destroyed by its only residents; a groundhog family and a termite nest. It had been determined that due to health issues and convenience, a new building was needed with proper restrooms. What started as just restrooms and storage soon turned into what is now called “the dream”, with restrooms, conference and class rooms, and ultimately the new addition of a chapel, appropriately named St Francis.
This new building will be an addition to the back of the existing church. The current quaint church and its welcoming features will not be affected with the exception of where the back side is connected to the new building. The main part of the upper floor will consist of the new chapel with most all of the furnishings from the old St Francis Chapel from Good Samaritan; pews, statues, etc, including the stained glass windows. The cost of this nearly $800,000 addition is now being raised by the church. Many companies have come forward in donation of services and/ or materials. The church is now in the process of raising the final $150,000. Thanks to the generous gifts of many, this dream will come to life. Out of the rubble of a good old friend, Good Samaritan Hospital, will come a reborn and resurrected chapel less than 10 minutes north of Zanesville.
Contributions to this project can be sent to St Mary Building Fund, PO Box 107 Dresden, Ohio 43821, or visit the church’s Facebook page under St. Mary’s Mattingly Settlement / St. Ann Dresden. There you will find information and pictures about the project, as well as links to a go fund me website.
Submitted by Patrick Smeltzer