Sisters in Humboldt County live out the Providence mission

February 7, 2024 Providence Health Team

[4 MIN READ]

In this article:

  • Providence serves the most poor and vulnerable in our communities, just like our founder Mother Joseph and the sisters of Providence.

  • The sisters play an important role in our health care system today, even with declining numbers of “women religious.”

  • Sister Thuy Tran talks about her work in Humboldt County and how the sisters of St. Joseph continue to support the Providence ministry.

Sisters in Humboldt County live out the Providence mission

At Providence, we strive to remain connected to our roots. We’re proud of our history and the legacy that Mother Joseph and the four Sisters of Providence established in 1856. For over a century, they served everyone – especially the most poor and vulnerable.

Today, we continue their mission. And even though the number of “women religious” has decreased nationally over the years, the sisters still play a crucial role in caring for our communities. That’s especially true in Humboldt County, California, where the sisters of St. Joseph founded St. Joseph Hospital Eureka more than 100 years ago and Redwood Memorial Hospital more than 60 years ago.

Q&A with Providence Sister Thuy Tran

To learn more about the continued work of the sisters in Humboldt County, we spoke with Sister Thuy Tran, who is the foundation chaplain for the Providence Mission Hospital Foundation and serves on the board of St. Joseph Hospital and Redwood Memorial Hospital.

Q: What does “serving the poor and vulnerable” mean to Providence and to you?

A: The term that the sisters of St. Joseph use from 1650 is “dear neighbor.” The “dear neighbor” is anyone who is poor and vulnerable in our neighborhood, communities and our ministry that we are called to serve. The vulnerable and our “dear neighbor” can be anyone who comes to our hospital and needs our care and compassion.

Q: What made you want to become a sister of St. Joseph and what is the role of a sister at Providence?

A: We are all called to live out our vocation whether it is religious life, married life or single life. The best example I can give people about my discernment to religious life is the journey of falling in love with someone. My journey with God was like that.

The sisters of Providence and the sisters of St. Joseph are both women religious communities. The sisters of St. Joseph are called to bring unity and reconciliation to our broken and wounded world. An example is: Are there relationships in your life that need healing? The sisters of Providence’s gift to the church is bringing God’s compassionate care to the poor and vulnerable.

Q: What is your role within Providence, and specifically, your role in support of Providence Humboldt County?

A: Currently, I minister by ensuring that our caregivers, providers, community board members and volunteers know their “why” in serving Providence. I enjoy accompanying our caregivers, providers, community board members and volunteers by ministering closely with them to ensure that we are in alignment and integrating our mission, vision, promise and values. I also serve on the community board and community health investment committees at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Redwood Memorial hospitals, where I also advocate and ensure that we are in alignment and integrate our mission, vision, promise and values of Providence in all that we do.

Q: What is your educational background? And how do you leverage your experience as a sister and health care leader to support our ministry in Humboldt?

A: I hold a master’s degree in health care mission and a doctorate in health care administration. I feel it is a privilege and a responsibility as a sister to be as present as possible with our caregivers, clinicians and the Humboldt community. We stand on the shoulders of the sisters of St. Joseph and the sisters of Providence, who started the healing ministry of Jesus. I want to ensure that we are continuing the healing ministry as the founding sisters are entrusting our caregivers and providers to carry on the ministry of Jesus into the future.

Q: What are you most proud of regarding the care provided to our community in Humboldt County?

A: I am most proud that Humboldt County is receiving exceptional, quality and compassionate care. Also, I am most proud of the Providence team for caring for those who are homeless, mentally ill and marginalized in the community. Providence has invested a lot of resources and money into the community to ensure that we are taking care of the poor and vulnerable – our “dear neighbor.”

Q: What is your favorite thing about Humboldt County?

A: The first favorite is the people who are living and serving in Humboldt County. The second thing that comes to mind is the redwoods and beauty of Humboldt County.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in this next chapter for Providence Humboldt County?

A: In this next chapter, I look forward to seeing and continuing to support the legacy of the founding sisters being lived out in Humboldt County and that our caregivers are a part of the founding legacy, too.

Contributing Caregiver

Sister Thuy Tran is a Foundation Chaplain for our Providence Mission Hospital Foundation.

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Related resources

How we began

How Catholic sisters created homes for people with AIDS

Supportive housing initiatives help serve those on the margins

Humboldt County resource centers offer ‘bright spot of connection’

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

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