Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
April 30, 2001
St. Joe's Hospital to change hands
Sisters no longer able to sponsor auxiliary hospital
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Forced by their aging membership and declining numbers, the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul are transferring sponsorship of St. Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital to the Alberta Catholic Health Corp. (ACHC), an entity of the Alberta bishops.
"It's a sign of the times," said general superior Sister Joan Whittingham from Kingston, Ont. "The ages of our sisters have gone up but the numbers have gone down and so we don't have sisters to be present there in our health care institutions anymore."
The few remaining sisters have gone into different ministries and don't find hospital administration appealing anymore, said Whittingham.
The sisters transferred ownership of St. Joseph's to the province in 1993, when the facility moved from Whyte Avenue to its present site at 10707-29 Ave., but they retained responsibility for the hospital's mission, vision and values as well as for naming its chief executive officer and board of directors.
That responsibility, called sponsorship, is now going to the ACHC, whose role is to maintain and develop Catholic health care in Alberta. The sponsorship transfer was signed March 31 but the official public celebration will be held May 9 and 10.
"By transferring sponsorship to the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation, we ensure that St. Joseph's Hospital will continue to operate as a faith-based continuing care provider within the Capital Health Region," said St. Joseph's executive director Marilyn Snow.
"It means a continuation of the mission established by the sisters and ensuring that the mission and philosophy and values of the organization are preserved into the future."
Giving up sponsorship of the 204-bed hospital that they founded in 1927 is "a bittersweet moment," for the sisters, said Whittingham. "It's painful to let go of what we really believed in and gave our hearts to. But I think at the same time we recognize that now it is the moment to hand it on to our wonderful lay people."
There are 12 Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in Edmonton and 155 throughout Canada.
Over the years, the Edmonton sisters have moved away from health care and into ministries like counselling and spiritual direction, although at least six of them remain at St. Joseph's - three of them on the hospital board and another three in the pastoral care department.
There are also Sisters of Providence at Rosary Hall, a home for women who have had psychiatric problems and are unable to live on their own.
The sisters now serving at St. Joseph's will remain there for the time being, Whittingham said. "I don't see us actually abandoning the hospital board but gradually we would probably begin to move out and to make way for the lay people on the board."
The order still sponsors hospitals in Camrose, Moose Jaw, Sask. and in Ontario.
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