Here and There: Celebrating Sister Lauren, beating the heat, creating a time capsule

In this all-Sisters edition of Here and There, read about an ice cream social to celebrate Sister Lauren, learn how the Sisters of Saint Francis coordinated a refresh center for staff working outside during a hot spell, and find out which items will be preserved in a time capsule in the Sister Lauren Weinandt Staff Gazebo.

"Here and There" gives you a glimpse at happenings across Mayo Clinic, giving special attention to the lighter moments. If you and your colleagues had some fun or stumbled across something interesting, drop the News Center team a note, and include a photo or video if you can.

See what your colleagues have been up to recently.

A sweet celebration for Sister Lauren

Staff, patients and visitors were among those who gathered to celebrate and remember Sister Lauren on Aug. 2, which would have been her 102nd birthday. There were sweet treats, music and laughter — just what Sister Lauren hoped for when she planned the party before her passing.

"When she was asked when she became ill if the party should still be held, her answer was 'Carry on!'" says John J. Murphy, a dear friend of Sister Lauren's.

The event, sponsored by Morrison Healthcare, Saint Marys Campus Administration and Mayo Clinic Community Engagement, was held in the Edith Graham Mayo Courtyard on Saint Marys Campus. It included a flyover by Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service helicopters, which had been blessed by Sister Lauren before their entry into service.

Mayo Clinic administrators served approximately 5,000 ice cream cones and fruit bars to those who attended, which included members of Sister Lauren's family and the Sisters of Saint Francis.

Guests also included Sister Lauren's physician, who presented her family and Sisters with 102 multicolored roses in her memory. They, in turn, gifted the roses to many of the staff who cared for Sister Lauren.

Refresh center helps staff stay cool

As the temperatures in Rochester rose at the end of July, so did the concerns the Sisters of Saint Francis had about those they saw working outside Saint Marys in the heat. The Sisters wanted to find a way to provide safety and comfort for the workers.

In true Mayo Clinic fashion, a team was quickly assembled to create a refresh center on a shady spot of lawn at Saint Marys. Benike Construction provided a tent and a high-powered fan. Morrison Healthcare provided coolers of cold water and electrolyte drinks. Saint Marys Administration provided financial assistance. And the Sisters themselves staffed the refresh center and provided dozens of Sister Lauren's famous sugar cookies.

Sister Theresa Hoffmann offered visitors cookies at the refresh station.

The refresh center was open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 26, 27 and 28 and drew a steady stream of workers — and a steady stream of gratitude. 

A construction worker offered thanks for being remembered in the heat. A member of the Mayo grounds crew remarked that "the Sisters care for everybody."

That's just part of their ministry, they say. 

"This is living our values," one of the Sisters said. "It's an issue of respect: treating everyone in our diverse community, including patients, their families and colleagues, with dignity. This is an expression of dignity."

Honoring the legacy of Sister Lauren

One of the most lasting ways to remember Sister Lauren is yet to come. Construction is underway for the Sister Lauren Weinandt Staff Gazebo at Saint Marys, which is expected to be completed this summer.

A rendering of the Sister Lauren Weinandt Staff Gazebo.

On June 26, a time capsule was installed in the structure to connect future generations with the values of Sister Lauren and the work of Mayo teams today. Staff had been invited to make suggestions for items to be included in the capsule. They were encouraged to consider small physical objects, photos or messages to show what it meant to work at Mayo Clinic in 2021, what represents the spirit of Mayo Clinic and what symbolizes Mayo's commitment to serving patients and supporting each other. 

The 15 items selected for the capsule include:

  • Photos of the Sisters who reside at Saint Marys with Ken Ackerman at the gazebo groundbreaking and photos of the Facilities staff and contractors who designed and built the gazebo.
  • A photo of Sister Lauren Weinandt.
  • A Mayo Clinic mask with the design called "I Wear it for My Patients."
  • The book "Gifts of Her Spirit," poems by Sister Mary Brigh Cassidy.
  • The book "The Little Book of Mayo Clinic Values."
  • A Karis Award pin and information.
  • A thank you card from Sister Lauren on the occasion of her 100th birthday.
  • A Mayo Clinic News Center article announcing the gazebo.
  • A Mayo Clinic News Center article requesting time capsule suggestions.
  • A Mayo Clinic News Center article on the groundbreaking for the gazebo.
  • A how-to-Zoom meeting reference guide.
  • Campus maps for Rochester.
  • Information about the previous gazebo and a photo.
  • A Mayo Clinic History and Heritage website magnet.
  • A message to Mayo Clinic colleagues of the future.

The items were photographed for archival documentation, wrapped in tissue and placed in a watertight rectangular case made of stainless steel, affixed with the Mayo Clinic logo. 

In a simple ceremony to install the time capsule, Sisters Bernadette NovackCashel Weiler and Theresa Hoffmann gathered with the project team to share a blessing, song, and thoughts and prayers for Sister Lauren, who had been hospitalized and unable to attend.