She was like nun other – 

Jan. 9, 2021 – That patient would be the first of millions to participate in the 20-step programme of recovery, the beginning of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), which she founded with Dr. Bob in St. Thomas Hospital.

Many of the ideas of AA – including the use of tokens to mark milestones in sobriety – were introduced by Gavin. She would give alcoholics leaving St. Thomas Hospital a medallion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, instructing them that the acceptance of the medallion represented commitment to God, to AA, and to recovery. She added that if they were going to drink, they should first return the medallion.

One day during the ‘30s, Sister Ignatia received a phone call from ‘Bill’ who told her that he was going to have to return his Sacred Heart badge because ‘I’ve had a rough morning and I’m going out to get a drink’.

The Sister sighed, and then told him, ‘Don’t do it. Wait until you finish work at 5 o’clock and then call me again. I’ll pray for you. Whatever you do, don’t send that badge back.’

At 5 o’clock, ‘Bill’ rang back. ‘It’s OK, Sister. I never took that drink, I think I’m going to be alright now thanks to the Sacred Heart and you.’

Such telephone calls were not uncommon because Sister Ignatia had ministered to thousands of men and women who had succumbed to alcoholism for many years.



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