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Archives Gifford honored for service at SSJ Infirmary

March 6, 2024

By Deacon Kevin Mastellon
Contributing Writer

Linda Gifford was volunteering at Mercy Hospital’s Madonna Nursing Home when a friend told her of a need for someone with her gifts of dedication and compassion at the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Motherhouse Infirmary in Watertown.

Linda applied. Sister Mary Ellen Brett, the major superior at the time, interviewed Linda and eventually hired her.

Thirty-five years later, Linda Gifford received the Bishop Edgar P. Wadhams Award from Bishop Terry R. LaValley for her “compassionate care as a Nursing Assistant” in the Infirmary.

The award was presented to Linda at the conclusion of a Mass celebrated by Bishop LaValley in the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse Chapel on Feb. 24.

“Her dedication and good judgement brough comfort to the Sisters as she went above and beyond the call of duty, ensuring they were as comfortable as possible,” the award states. “Extremely dependable, Linda often arrived early in the morning to prepare everything for the Sisters’ personal care. She was efficient and cooperated well with everyone working in the infirmary. A faith-filled woman, Linda treasured the opportunity to take the Sisters to Mass.”

The Chapel was filled with sisters and Linda’s other co-workers, friends, and relatives, but the Black River resident was unaware of the award until Bishop LaValley called her forward and read from the citation.

“We would be hard pressed to find anyone with a greater sense of dedication,” Bishop read. “We thank God that Linda has enriched our lives.”

The infirmary closed at the end of 2023. The current superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sister Shirley Anne Brown, said of the Mass and ceremony, “It was a wonderful opportunity to highlight all our caregivers. Bishop LaValley was most gracious to be here with us.”

Linda Gifford looked back on her 35 years fondly. “There is not one moment or event that I would trade for any other. Everyone was wonderful. I love them all.”

The Bishop Edgar P. Wadhams Award was instituted by Bishop Paul S. Loverde, the eleventh Bishop of Ogdensburg, in 1996 to recognize exceptional service to the Diocese of Ogdensburg by an individual.

Past recipients of the Award include Father Richard Siepka, Monsignor Lawrence M. Deno,. Mary Lou Kilian, Monsignor Robert Giroux, Dr. Gerald Irwin, Sister Kathryn Healy, Dr. A. B. DeGrandpre, Clyde A. Lewis, Sr., Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Sanders, Sister Donna Franklin, D.C., Mr. & Mrs. Henry Doningos, Sally Rusaw, Elaine Cook, Irving Papineau, Noreen Barcomb, Glenn Burdo, Starr Burke, Mr. & Mrs. David Cline, Ruth Demarse, Joseph Denoncourt, Patricia Fassett, Pat Fontana, Sr., Deacon and Mrs. Gary Frank, Connie Hatch-Young, Mr. & Mrs. Jeremiah Hayes, Mr. & Mrs. Gerald LaValley, Dr. and Mrs. Victor Ludwig, Leslie Marvel, Mr. & Mrs. Angelo Pietropaoli, Elsie Scruggs, Mary Catherine  Spillman,  Donna Steenberg, Daniel Sweeney, Sister Mary Christine Taylor, SSJ, Michael Tooley, Michelle Watkins,. Linda Young, Michael Bresnahan, Jr., James Brady, Jane Boyea, Bruce Bombard, Celine Paquette and Ralph Bennett.

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