History of Caring

Our History

Mercy Cross | Nursing HomeIn the early 1950s, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, under the leadership of Archbishop Francis P. Keough, addressed the retirement needs of the elderly by building Stella Maris as a leading nursing home and skilled nursing facility in Timonium, Maryland. Archbishop Keough invited the Sisters of Mercy, known for their administrative capabilities and compassionate care, to operate Stella Maris, named for Mary, Star of the Sea. He dedicated Stella Maris on September 12, 1953, and Sister Mary Celeste Waynant, RSM, served as the first administrator. Within the first decade, as the original nursing home residents began to age, their needs changed. Therefore, additional services were added and a new five-story building was constructed. In 1966, the Pangborn Wing was dedicated by Archbishop Cardinal Shehan. This new wing doubled the size of Stella Maris and answered a growing need for nursing home care. Stella Maris was now able to provide compassionate care for more than 400 residents.
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Future growth during the next three decades changed the face of Stella Maris. In 1980, St. Elizabeth Hall, a building of 200 apartments for seniors living independently, was opened. This was the first senior apartment complex in the country attached to a nursing home. In 1983, Stella Maris was state-certified for hospice services, providing the state’s first integrated home and in-patient hospice program. By 1992, Stella Maris initiated a sub-acute care program, providing short-term rehabilitation care for patients, and also opened the Marion Burk Knott Wing for persons with dementia. With this last expansion, Stella Maris increased the number of licensed beds to 448, making it at that time the state’s largest long-term care facility. In 1997, Stella Maris was purchased by Mercy Medical Center from the Archdiocese of Baltimore and became a Sisters of Mercy sponsored ministry. Then in 1999, it became an affiliate of Mercy Health Services. Today, Stella Maris is a 412-bed facility and is the second-largest long-term care facility in Maryland.

For more than 60 years, Stella Maris has been a leading nursing home, providing Baltimore-area residents (Baltimore County as well as Harford County and Carroll County) with a comprehensive range of health and residential services. The Stella Maris team of highly trained professionals includes nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, chaplains, therapists and other caregivers. A large pool of dedicated volunteers who offer their time and talents to Stella Maris enhances the care and comfort of the patients and residents. The competent and compassionate care provided by the Sisters of Mercy and the staff serves the elderly from retirement through the end of life. Although the campus has dramatically changed through the years, the tender, compassionate care of each resident has remained constant.

Our Mission is Compassion. Our Mission is Dignity. Our Mission is Mercy.


1843  December 21 (Thanksgiving Day)    Mother Frances Warde and six Sisters arrived in Pittsburgh from Ireland. The trip from Ireland took four weeks and two days, with the Sisters arriving in New York on December 10, 1843.  Their arrival date in Pittsburgh is considered Foundation Day of the Sisters of Mercy in the United States.

1855  June 28      Four Sisters of Mercy arrived at St. Peter’s Church in southwest Baltimore to take over operations of the tuition-free parish school.

1874  November 11     Six Sisters of Mercy assumed charge of Baltimore City Hospital, renamed Mercy Hospital in 1909 and Mercy Medical Center in 1988.

1953  Archbishop Francis P. Keough invited the Sisters of Mercy to administer Stella Maris. Sr. M. Celeste Waynant was the first Sister of Mercy administrator.

September 12      Formal dedication of Stella Maris

October 10           The first residents moved in.

Learn more about our Timeline

1964  Groundbreaking for the new Pangborn Wing

1966  Dedication of the Pangborn Wing by Archbishop Cardinal Shehan. This was the first physical expansion to Stella Maris since 1953, which doubled its size to care for the elderly.

1969  Sr. Louis Mary Battle, RSM, was named chief administrator.

1977  February    Stella Maris began administering Long Crandon, the archdiocesan residence for retired priests.

March        Outreach Ministry Program was established, the first of its kind and Sr. Naomi Zerhusen, RSM, was named as director

1978  June 3        Groundbreaking for St. Elizabeth Hall, an independent living facility for seniors

1980  March 5     Opening of St. Elizabeth Hall, 200 individual apartments with 50% allotted for Section 8 subsidies. It was the first senior apartment complex in the country attached to a nursing home. Sr. Mary Beane, RSM, was the first resident manager

June 7        Dedication of St. Elizabeth Hall by Archbishop Borders    

1983 Stella Maris was licensed and certified for hospice services. It became Maryland’s first Medicare-approved Hospice Program and Maryland’s first integrated home and in-patient hospice program, i.e., hospice care under a central administration

30th Anniversary of Stella Maris

 1991 June 24      Ground-breaking for the Marion Burk Knott Wing

1992  Sub-acute care was initiated, providing short-term rehabilitative care for patients.

Opening of the Marion Burk Knott Wing, increasing the number of licensed beds to 448. Stella Maris became the largest long-term care facility in the state of Maryland.

1993  September 19    Dedication of the Marion Burk Knott Wing with two special care dementia units

40th Anniversary of Stella Maris and 10th Anniversary of the Hospice Program

1997  July 1         Mercy Medical Center purchased Stella Maris from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, thus becoming a Sisters of Mercy sponsored ministry. Sr. Karen McNally was named Chief Administrative Officer,

and Sr. Louis Mary was named President Emerita.

1999  June           Mercy Health Services was formed and Stella Maris became

an affiliate.

2000  Formation of the Stella Maris Advisory Board

2003  September 14      Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Stella Maris

50th Anniversary Garden was built on the east side of the main building.

2004  April 4        Dedication of the 50th Anniversary Garden

Personal Care Services for in-home patients was initiated.

2005  May    Senior Day Center opens

2007  In-patient hospice unit is refurbished, providing private rooms and family space

2008  25th Anniversary of the Hospice program; re-opening of the skilled and long-term care unit on 3 Shehan with private rooms and a homelike environment

2012  Stella Maris receives the Silver-Achievement in Quality Award from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living

2013  December 22        Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Stella Maris and the 30th Anniversary of Hospice

Sisters of Mercy Leadership

Since its beginning in 1953, Stella Maris has been blessed by the service of many Sisters of Mercy. They have always served as the chief administrators and in a variety of other areas throughout Stella Maris. The Sisters have provided a vision of mercy and compassion for all in their care. The legacy of Catherine McAuley, showing great tenderness in all things, has lived on for more than 60 years.

Sr. Mary Celeste Waynant, RSM (1953-59; 1960-63)

Sr. Mary Kristen Lancaster, RSM (1959-60)

Sr. Mary Thomas Zinkand, RSM (1963-64)

Sr. Mary Vincent Dunnigan, RSM (1964-68)

Sr. Mary Brian Anderson, RSM (1968-69)

Sr. Louis Mary Battle, RSM (1969-97)

Sr. Mary Karen McNally, RSM (1997-2019)


We appreciate the care and patience with which your staff treated my uncle. We know all of the staff did their very best to help him and ease his discomfort, physically and mentally.
S. Bottcher
Monkton, Maryland


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Speaker: Diane Martin, Ph.D. Director, Geriatrics and Gerontology Education and Research Program Senior Lecturer, UM Graduate School University of Maryland, Baltimore Effective communication is an important component of person-centered care and necessary to promote quality of later life. During this scenario-based educational conference, attendees will learn to recognize factors that negatively impact medical and non-medical (more…)

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