Sisters of Charity Federation Archives

Verhalen, Sr. Cyrilla, D.C. Oral History (Excerpt)




JANUARY 21, 1988

Sr. Cyrilla: Today is the very day that I left the Seminary to go out to San Francisco.
Sr. Josephine: And when was that Sister?
Sr. Cyrilla: It was the Feast of St. Agnes, and it was during that dreadful year when
everybody was having the flu [The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic].
Sr. Josephine: 1918?
Sr. Cyrilla: 1918. And it was the funeral day of that dear Sister who came from
California [possibly Sister Agnes McEleney]. She was the biggest, the strongest, the
healthiest looking Sister, and from the very beginning the doctor said, “No earthly power
can save her.” So she died, and she was being buried on her name day but in the
general, big cemetery [Calvary Cemetery], because they didn't have any cemetery yet
at the Marillac.
Sr. Josephine: Sister, you are not exactly sweet sixteen. When were you born?
Sr. Cyrilla: I was born in 1894.
Sr. Josephine: And what was your birthday?
Sr. Cyrilla: The third of August.
Sr. Josephine: The third of August 1894. When that date comes around, you'll be how
old then?
Sr. Cyrilla: I'll be 94 years old.
Sr. Josephine: Ninety-four. Isn’t that wonderful.
[Jump in excerpt of recording]
Sr. Josephine: You entered at the Marillac, Sister?
Sr. Cyrilla: Yes.
Sr. Josephine: Who was the Visitatrix then? [Sister] Eugenia Fealy?
Sr. Cyrilla: That was her.

Sr. Josephine: And who was your Directress?
Sr. Cyrilla: I have to think of her name. She was the first Directress of the whole
Sr. Josephine: Was that [Sister] Madeleine Morris?
Sr. Cyrilla: She had a brother who was a bishop.
Sr. Josephine: That was Sr. Madeleine Morris, and then she went over to France and
was a Secretary [Sr. Madeleine became General Secretary for the English-speaking
provinces in 1945].
Sr. Cyrilla: She really knew French so well that she could translate it right through and
just read French.
Sr. Josephine: What did you think of the Seminary?
Sr. Cyrilla: Sister, I was too sick to think of anything. Do you know what I had when I
was three weeks right after Thanksgiving while I was at St. Anne's [Asylum] a
postulant? I got sick and was having a high fever, and it lasted for three weeks, and the
doctors didn't know what was-- What is it? What’s the matter? What am I getting? And
jaundice! Yellow jaundice. And Sister, imagine getting out of bed of yellow jaundice and
going to the Seminary and then handfuls of chocolate.
[Portion redacted from transcript]
Sr. Josephine: Well, then you got the habit
Sr. Cyrilla: And we were stuck there with the flu, the terrible flu, and they kept us there.
This is a funny thing Sister. We were kept over so that we wouldn't get the flu.
Sr. Josephine: And, of course, you got it?
Sr. Cyrilla: And you know how we got it? The Sister sacristan, not knowing how
dangerous it was, went to visit the man that scrubbed the floors. Had the flu. She
brought it home, and all these young, new Sisters who had received the habit were
helping in the chapel, and we all got it. On Christmas Day, one after the other got sick,
and so the doctor said, “Sister, take the temperature of all of them.” I was a goner,
because I knew I had a terrible night. I didn’t want to go to bed on Christmas.
Sr. Josephine: When you got over the flu, then you went out on mission, where did you
Sr. Cyrilla: To Sister Caroline.

Sr. Josephine: In San Francisco.
Sr. Cyrilla: St. Vincent's School or the St. Patrick's Parish [Her first mission was St.
Vincent’s High School].
Sr. Josephine: And how long were you there?
Sr. Cyrilla: I was there until 1932 I think it was.


Dublin Core


Verhalen, Sr. Cyrilla, D.C. Oral History (Excerpt)


Verhalen, Sr. Cyrilla, D.C.; Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; Influenza Epidemic, 1918-1919


Sister Cyrilla Verhalen discusses her time in the Seminary of the Daughters of Charity and her first mission in Perryville, Missouri during the outbreak of the Spanish flu in 1918


Verhalen, Sr. Cyrilla, D.C.; Tarquini, Sr. Josephine, D.C.


Daughters of Charity Archives, Province of St. Louise, Emmitsburg, MD




Keefer, Scott (Editor)


Permission for any type of publication of archival materials, including text, photographs, video, or audio must be secured from the Daughters of Charity Communications Director before publication.ÿ Contact archvies staff for appropriate forms and contact information


Audio/mp3; Application/pdf




Oral History


Verhalen, Sister Cyrilla Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Tarquini, Sister Josephine, D.C.


Verhalen, Sister Cyrilla, D.C.

Original Format





Verhalen, Sr. Cyrilla, D.C.; Tarquini, Sr. Josephine, D.C. , “Verhalen, Sr. Cyrilla, D.C. Oral History (Excerpt),” Sisters of Charity Federation Archives, accessed July 14, 2024,


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