Living Our Charism

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By Sister Lois Anne Palkert, OSF

In a recent article in Health Progress, Ron Hamel and Michael Panicola acknowledge that “Health care in the United States is in a state of major transformation, the likes of which perhaps we have never seen.” The transition reveals some very encouraging trends. There are, however, trends that are concerning and challenging that could have an impact on our Catholic identity.

Catholic health care is motivated and defined by its faith in the redemptive act of Jesus Christ, participating in and continuing the healing ministry of Jesus.

Throughout our 100 year history, our involvement in the ministry of healthcare has evolved. Now as a participating member of Catholic Health Initiatives we, along with each of the participating congregations continue to evolve as we each bring the unique gift of our founder/foundress to our ministry. Each of these founders/foundresses, in their own unique way, responded to the call of God to serve those in need of healing. When we think of all that has come to be, we stand in awe of the mysterious and awesome ways God’s creative Spirit is at work.

Our contribution to CHI is our Franciscan heritage, our unique way of living Gospel values that consistently gives meaning to our ministry. Recent popular management writings stress the importance of “operationalizing values”. According to studies the most successful corporations have a strong corporate culture; they have a sense of identity and values. The creation of a corporate culture depends on the employees having a common knowledge of the “heroes and heroines, the values the organization chooses” and the stories that give life to these values.

CHI recognizes and values the work of the founding congregations. To this end CHI has published a book, entitled Charism to tell the story of each of the participating congregations. We bring to that rich tradition our story, the legacy of the Sisters who have served in our sponsored health care ministries. That legacy continues today in our lay partners who embrace our congregational mission and values and the mission and values of CHI. Within our healthcare system, especially at St Joseph Regional in Bryan we e continually provide opportunities strengthen our Franciscan heritage and tradition.

Because we face an uncertain future we can be tempted to fearful in the face of the crises that confront us in Catholic health care. Reviewing the history of the works of Sylvania Franciscan Health and before that Sylvania Services Corporation and the history of CHI sponsoring congregations shows us that crisis has always been a part of the ministry. History teaches us that our challenge is not greater or lesser-it is our own particular cross and challenge.

Frustration and despair are contradictions of hope. Faith in the face of crisis is clearly evident in our history and the understanding of our charism and the charisms evident in the founders/foundresses of the congregations participating in CHI. Knowing this makes our own choices in faith more meaningful. We cannot allow size and sustainability to blind us to the importance of our fundamental value commitments. Living out these commitments is a necessary condition for realizing our mission of revealing God’s healing and reconciling presence to the sick and suffering in the communities we serve.

We begin our centennial celebration and prepare for chapter 2016 with the vision and confidence of Mother Adelaide who throughout her live was willing to risk in faith.

Sister Lois Anne Palkert

Health and Human Services

Sister Lois Anne PalkertSister Lois Anne has had the opportunity to serve in a variety of ministries, initially as a teacher in Detroit and Toledo. She transferred her teaching skills into formation ministry in Sylvania, then to Lourdes College where she was Director of the Lifelong Learning. She then moved into parish ministry and served as a Director of Faith Formation and as a Pastoral Associate in two rural parishes in Minnesota. From education she transferred to healthcare ministry and currently serves as the Director of Mission Services at St Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, Texas.

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