HARTFORD – St. Francis Care, the parent organization of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, celebrated its new sponsorship by Trinity Health with a “Unity Celebration” in the hospital’s patient care tower rotunda Oct. 23.
It was the end of a 118-year partnership between the hospital and the Archdiocese of Hartford, but the relationship will not be severed, officials from the hospital and the archdiocese said.
Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso, who blessed the new partnership, told the Transcript that the archdiocese will continue to have a presence in support of the hospital and will be represented on a yet-to-be-named new board of directors.
Christopher M. Dadlez, for the past 11 years president and CEO of St. Francis, explained the transfer of sponsorship this way:
“The archdiocese will not be the sole corporate member responsible for the organization, but I think that [the transition] will really have a minimal effect because we’re still committed to providing Catholic health care for the archdiocese and this region, and the responsibility, the day-to-day responsibility, has really shifted to Trinity Health. But the commitment to Catholic health care is everlasting.”
The hospital, he said, will also continue to be committed to its patients, its staff and its involvement in programs like Malta House of Care’s mobile medical clinic. In fact, he said, “We’ll only have the opportunity to enhance it.”
During the celebration, St. Francis Care and Trinity Health exchanged symbolic gifts and lit a three-wick candle celebrating their union.
The ritual marked the creation of Trinity Health’s ministerial juridic person, Catholic Health Ministries (CHM). A ministerial (or public) juridic person, explained Dominican Sister Catherine DeClercq, Trinity Health’s executive vice president of governance and sponsorship, is an entity within the Roman Catholic Church that corresponds in canon law to a corporation in civil law. Canon law defines it as an “aggregate of persons or of things ordered for a purpose which is in keeping with the mission of the church and which transcends the purpose of the individuals.”
The event featured Scripture readings by Rabbi Alan Lefkowitz, a chaplain at the hospital; and Sister Mary Persico, a Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and executive vice president for mission integration for Trinity Health. Dr. Atique Mirza, a cardiovascular physician at St. Francis, read from the Koran.
Sister of St. Joseph M. Suzanne Brasauska, an alumna of the 1947 class of St. Francis School of Nursing; Sister Catherine; and Bishop Macaluso contributed reflections on the history of St. Francis Hospital, which was founded in 1897 by Bishop Michael A. Tierney and staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery.
Sister of Mercy Linda Werthman, vice chair of CHM, read a proclamation by CHM granting Archbishop Leonard P. Blair’s “request to substitute Trinity Health in place of the Archbishop of Hartford” as corporate sponsor of St. Francis Care.
Trinity Health’s mission, which becomes the mission of the hospital and is posted in the rotunda, reads: “We, Trinity Health, serve together in the spirit of the Gospel as a compassionate and transforming healing presence within our communities.”
Trinity Health’s core values are “Reverence, commitment to those who are poor, justice, stewardship and integrity.”
Mr. Dadlez said in a statement, “The compassion and reverence for human life that inspired and fueled the hearts of our founding Sisters remains at the core of what we are, and, most importantly, at the core of what we strive to be.”
A statement from Archbishop Blair reads:
“Throughout its long history St. Francis Hospital has been committed to providing the best quality health care, and doing so in keeping with its Catholic identity. The newly announced strategic partnership with Trinity Health makes it possible for this mission not only to continue, but to grow. St. Francis will be better positioned to meet today’s challenges in the medical field, and at the same time to operate in accordance with the moral, ethical and social teachings of the church.
This is very much in keeping with Pope Francis’ call to live the ‘corporal works of mercy,’ among which caring for the sick has a very special place. My congratulations go to St. Francis Care and Trinity Health.”