The first public meeting to organize a hospital drive was held on June 18, 1910. A group of citizens approached Bishop Vincent Wehrle of Bismarck for help. The Bishop agreed to assume the responsibility for $60,000 and the people would raise an additional $20,000 in private donations. With borrowed money, at 7% interest, and without Sisters to staff it, Bishop Wehrle built the original 40-room St. Joseph's Hospital in 1911.
Having built the hospital, the Bishop's next step was finding Sisters to staff it. On his way to Rome early in 1912, Bishop Wehrle stopped at Ingenbohl, Switzerland to visit with the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross to urge his case personally. Records state that the Bishop's approach was like an assault in battle: he came, he spoke, he conquered!
Six Sisters arrived in Dickinson on March 22, 1912: Sister Lauda, Sister Clementine, Sister Philiberta, Sister Richardis, Sister Secundia, and Sister Auxentia. Their Mission was to meet the needs of the times. And what did they find? Only a shell for a hospital. No electricity, no bells for the patients, no elevator, no equipment in the operating rooms, X-Ray, laboratory, kitchen or laundry. The Bishop promised the Sisters $8.00 a month as salary - scarcely a living wage, even in those days.