Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity HealthCare Ministry, Inc. CEO, Sister Laura Wolf, OSF, answers this question from a perspective that “Catholic health ministry does not belong to me or to our congregation alone. It is Christ’s ministry.”
While Catholic health care organizations comprise the largest provider of not-for-profit health care in America today, they have all been built upon one foundational purpose: to fulfill the Gospel mandate to proclaim the good news and “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers: (Mt 10:8)
Religious orders throughout their histories have sought ways of bringing Jesus’ mission of love and healing to communities in need. This is what compelled 12 Ursuline sisters to travel from France to New Orleans in 1727 to provide health and social services to the underserved immigrant poor in that city and the following year to open Charity Hospital, the first Catholic hospital in what was to become the United States.
Today Catholic health care, in the form of hospitals and nursing homes is present in all 50 states. According to the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), there are more than 600 Catholic hospitals in the U.S. which employ more than 500,000 full-time and more than 200, 000 part-time workers. Every day, roughly one in six patients in the United States-more than 5.5 million every year-receives care in a Catholic hospital.
The vast majority of Catholic health care organizations in the U.S. were founded and continue to be sponsored by congregations of women religious. And like the Ursulines before them, the many congregations of Sisters began their health care ministries for one basic reason: people, usually in poor immigrant communities, were suffering, and their needs were not being met. Today, we all remain committed to continuing the Catholic Church’s healing ministry for virtually that same reason…”
Does this answer the question for you? Any comments?