November 25, the Kennedys, and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth

Jackie Kennedy letter

Letter from Jackie Kennedy to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (Courtesy Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Archival Center)

Guest post by Kathy Hertel-Baker, Director, Archival Center, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (KY).

November 25. Most people, if they associate this day with anything at all, associate it with the funeral and burial of a young President, taken from us too soon, with a young widow and her grieving family, and a three-year old child, saluting the body of his father, too young to understand the horror of what was happening. But, before that somber day in 1963, November 25 had a very different association for the Kennedy family. On that day in 1960, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was born at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C., at that time administered by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. The SCNs cared for the newborn and his elated parents, then President-elect John Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline. ‘John-John’, as he was affectionately known, arrived a month early, much to the surprise of his young parents. His father was in Florida at the time and received word of the birth while on the plane back to Washington. Sister Mary Evangelist, SCN, the administrator at Georgetown, presided over the crowd of reporters in the lobby waiting for word of the birth, releasing as much information as she was allowed and trying to keep everyone calm and comfortable. She met Mr. Kennedy when he finally arrived at the hospital and escorted him to his wife’s room. When she returned to speak with the press, she commented that the President-elect “was all smiles. We all congratulated him. Everybody is excited. We never had anything like this.” A few days later, Jacqueline Kennedy sent a personal note of thanks to the Sisters who had cared for her and the newest addition to their family. She included a check with the note, asking the Sisters “to get something nice for Christmas for all the nuns who were so good to me.” The Sisters used this gift to purchase a set of china to use in the Georgetown convent. Little could they have known the deep sorrow that would be enveloping them just three short years later. But until then, November 25, was a day of joy and celebration for the Kennedy family and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who helped bring their son into the world.

China

Some of the china purchased by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth with Jackie Kennedy’s gift (Courtesy Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Archival Center)

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Filed under John F. Kennedy, Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, U.S. Presidents

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