Alcoholics Anonymous. Founders: Sister Ignatia Gavin, Dr. Bob Smith, Bill Wilson.

The story of Alcoholics Anonymous began in the 1930s at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron Ohio, when Sister Ignatia Gavin met a patient who was hospitalized for alcoholism. The patient was Dr. Bob Smith, and their chance encounter made possible the creation of one of the greatest humanitarian organizations of our time, Alcoholics Anonymous. Sister Gavin was a frail music teacher, but her order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, shifted her to hospital work after she had had a nervous breakdown. Dr. Smith was desperate for a hospital that would agree with his idea that alcoholics might be sick. Sister Gavin was ready for an experiment. She began sneaking his patients into the hospital, hiding them at first in a room reserved for flower arranging. The result of this collaboration is probably the most successful rehabilitation program in American history. The shy, bespectacled nun always made light of her role in this. “We’re just like the Army, you know. We go where we are sent.” Read more about Alcoholics Anonymous here. [John J. Fialka, Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America, 1st ed. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003). 12-13]

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