Earlier this week, a Sister of Mercy stepped in temporarily to fill the part-time chaplaincy position at Mercy Hospital Fort Scott. It’s been nearly four years since patients and co-workers at the hospital have had the regular presence of a Sister on the property.
Sr. Julie Brown began the responsibilities of ministering to patients and co-workers to care for their spiritual needs on Feb. 18. She will work on Tuesdays and Thursdays until a permanent, part-time candidate is hired.
“My goal is to continue the same level of spiritual care and healing,” said Sr. Julie.
But her role involves more than patient care. Connecting with co-workers to provide the emotional support they need while caring for patients is an important aspect of her role as well.
“When a person makes the decision to work in this ministry, they must want to be of service to others,” shared Sr. Julie. “At Mercy, we view our role as holistic; we care for people physically, emotionally and spiritually at every stage of life and when they are most vulnerable.”
“As a chaplain, I carry the task of helping all co-workers follow in the steps the Sisters have laid before us. It’s vital that Mercy co-workers and lay people carry out the Mercy mission.”
Sr. Julie entered the Sisters of Mercy based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa 34 years ago. She moved to the Joplin shortly after the tornado in May 2011 and has served the ministry in Joplin and Carthage on an on-call basis ever since. She resides in the Joplin convent with two other Sisters.
In her spare time, Sr. Julie enjoys quilting, gardening and knitting socks for her family, most of which still reside in northwest Montana where she was raised.
“With Sister Mary Concetta Cardinale’s retirement and relocation to St. Louis in 2010, Mercy co-workers have accepted a greater responsibility to carry the Mercy mission forward,” shared Mercy Hospital President Reta Baker.
Over the last decade, the Sisters of Mercy recognized that the Mercy Health Ministry must transition to leadership by the organization’s lay co-workers.
“The Sisters have long been preparing Mercy co-workers for carrying on this ministry,” stated Baker. “Through formal processes, co-workers are able to deepen their understanding of and commitment to the healing ministry of Jesus in the spirit and charism of our founder Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy.”
“Catherine actually began her ministry as a lay woman and did not become a religious Sister until late in life, a fact which inspires confidence among co-workers who now carry forward the ministry,” Baker continued. “The Sisters of Mercy have placed their trust in the ability of Mercy co-workers to live this ministry with the same compassion and exceptional service they bring to those we serve.”
“Over the years, the Sisters have been the model for compassionate care and unwavering commitment to quality and integrity. Their example is what defines the Mercy values and inspires us today to continue their vision of health care far into the future.”
Mercy’s heritage dates back to Dublin, Ireland in 1827 when Catherine McAuley opened the House of Mercy, a house to shelter and educate poor young women. It was the beginning of a health care ministry that now spans the globe.
As part of the ministry founded by Catherine McAuley, Mercy Health Ministry is steeped in Catholic tradition. Today, 55 Sisters of Mercy are active in the Mercy health care ministry. Mercy Hospital Fort Scott is part of the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. Collectively Mercy serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 33 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, two rehab hospitals and one orthopedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,100 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.