For over one hundred years, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange have had a simple yet powerful mission: to unite all people with each other and with God, and to do this by caring for the dear neighbor without distinction, especially the poor and vulnerable. Impelled by this mission, the sisters approached the leaders of newly formed St. Joseph Health in 1986 to help turn our words into action within the new corporate structure. So began the system wide St. Joseph Health Foundation to improve the health and quality of life for the economically poor in the communities we serve. Today that original mission lives on through the work of the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund.
The preamble to the Care for the Poor Policies in Vision of Value clearly describes the inspiration and motivation for the work of the Fund.
We believe, as a health service organization, that we have a social responsibility and moral obligation to make quality health services accessible to the medically poor. Our commitment to serve this population is more critical and at the same time, more of a challenge than ever before.
We further believe all persons have a right to an adequate level of health care and that the provision of health care for those who require it is an obligation of justice as well as of charity or mercy.
We will pioneer ways of gathering a variety of resources for collaborative efforts to serve the poor. We plan to dedicate our available financial resources to this effort as well as to encourage and solicit other sources of financial support. We want to be more active in the public arena, advocating for the alleviation of conditions, which restrict access to basic health services.
The Fund empowers communities to use their strengths to understand and tackle pressing issues and improve the health of their residents.
Health care is constantly evolving. Over the 35 years since the Fund began, we have learned to appreciate the important role complex social determinants play in the overall health of our community. Issues such as housing stability, food security, educational attainment, disaster preparedness, and above all, racial and social equity have profound impacts that must be considered in our priorities. These issues can often require new, innovative approaches or even large-scale system changes to address them in meaningful ways. But no matter the strategy, the central mission of the Fund never wavers.
I am proud to see the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund expand throughout the entire Providence St. Joseph Health System. All system ministries and affiliates across seven states now play a role in fulfilling the Fund’s mission, making an even greater impact on the common good. The work of the Fund clearly demonstrates our belief that caring for the poor and vulnerable is at the heart of Catholic health care.
The legacy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange is evident in the critical work being carried out by the Fund today. I rejoice in knowing that the vision created by a few Sisters so long ago continues through the Fund’s deep commitment to social justice, health equity and caring for the most vulnerable of our dear neighbors.
In solidarity and with love for our communities,
Sister Suzanne Sassus, CSJ
Foundress and Board Member, St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund