Traditionally on February 1 each year, CHRISTUS Health celebrates CHRISTUS Day, commemorating the creation of CHRISTUS Health and celebrating the many successes CHRISTUS has achieved together serving communities in the United States, Mexico, Chile and Colombia as ONE CHRISTUS.
On February 1, 1999, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of Houston and of San Antonio consolidated their two health care systems to form CHRISTUS Health, thus strengthening their ability to meet the needs of the communities they serve across the U.S. and Latin America. In 2016, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth joined CHRISTUS Health as its third sponsor, further strengthening the organization and enabling the CHRISTUS Ministry to better serve all our communities.
This year, CHRISTUS Health celebrated 21 years of serving others. This act of service is rooted in the CHRISTUS Health Mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ and so on each CHRISTUS Health campus Associates took time out of their busy schedules to pray, say thanks for our heritage and our ability to continue to be service to others. The special prayer service is an annual tradition.
CHRISTUS took it one-step further for its 21st birthday with a special purple mark on social media. Many Associates and CHRISTUS followers decided to download a special CHRISTUS Day frame and CHRISTUS Day filter to show pride and appreciation in the work CHRISTUS does.
There are so many moments of hope and healing happening every day among the CHRISTUS Health community of 45,000 strong. Here are just three CHRISTUS moments, stories that encapsulate CHRISTUS core values of excellence, integrity, dignity, stewardship and compassion for others. There are countless stories around CHRISTUS to be told, as we look at our now slightly more than two decades of service and to the future.
The Final Day of a Hero
It was December 31, 2019 and Susan sat by the bedside of her Dad. It had been close to 40 years since her mother, Dorothy, had passed away.
On that day, 40 years ago, Susan’s Dad was doing his best to be strong that day. As her mother slowly slipped passed the line that no one could return, tears slowly moved down the furrowed lines of Bill’s face.
Now Susan sat besideBill as he prepared to cross that same line. With her cousin Anna and his Goddaughter Maria, they gazed at that same handsome face that carried the tears so many years before. A proud man of the Cochiti Pueblo.
His breath was getting shallow. He had reached the lofty age of 101. The priest had come and gone, to provide the last rites…it was now just a matter of time.
The chaplain had been a comfort to them over the last few days, and spoke with Susan about doing a Walk of Honor for her Dad since he was a veteran of World War II – an experience about which he rarely spoke.
His face seemed peaceful as he drew his last breath. Perhaps because he was now back with his love of 35 years –Dorothy. To prepare for Bill’s departure, and his Walk of Honor, his Nurse placed an American Flag shroud upon his body, and escorted his body out of the room.
As Bill’s body was wheeled out the door the family was in awe as more than 50 Associates, with hands across their hearts, lined the hallway in honor of this man who proudly served his nation. At the end of the hall a final tribute and prayer was given to this hero, husband, father, and proud Native American. At the same time, a new baby was born in Labor and Delivery, a poignant reminder of the sacredness of what we do to honor the end of life and bring in new life.
CHRISTUS St. Vincent Veteran’s Initiative
The CHRISTUS St. Vincent Mission Council (formed in 2019) is leading the Veteran’s initiative which includes acknowledgement of Associates who are Veterans, patients (inpatient) and patients who die in the hospital. The initiative was launched on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2019 with a blessing and cupcake celebration. Sixty five associates who are Veterans have been identified.
Patients who are Veterans are identified at the time of registration. They receive a visit from members of the Mission Council who participate in a special blessing and acknowledgement in the patient’s room. The patient is presented with a tote bag for their personal items with the CSV logo, a personalized certificate thanking them for their service, and a challenge coin. An American flag magnet is placed above their door so that anyone entering will know the patient is a Veteran and can acknowledge them. To date the council has done 15 presentations.
When a patient who is a Veteran dies in the hospital, the council holds a ceremony in the patient’s room with the family. If the family wishes, a Walk of Honor is conducted. The patient’s body is covered with a special American flag. The walk is initiated with “American Eagle Alert” called overhead. All available Associates line the hallways while the flag-draped body is wheeled through on the gurney.
The Jacket off His Back
At the CHRISTUS Health System Office in Irving just outside of Dallas, the call went out in early January.
Looking for volunteers to help with “Count the Night” of the unsheltered homeless in our community. This is part of a federal program where across the country, during the same week in January, cities and towns send out teams of volunteers to find, count and gather demographics around unsheltered homeless populations. This count is crucial for cities and towns to secure limited federal funding. Dallas is looking for 1,500 volunteers. Volunteers typically work in teams of 4, that are paired with a city employee (police officer, fire fighter, social worker, etc.) who are familiar with the area and can help guide to areas to find homeless people. Teams are assigned a geographic section to work.
CHRISTUS Health came through offering up approximately 30 Associates to volunteer and participate in this year’s counting of the homeless. They packed special goody bags during a lunch hour one Friday afternoon. They were ready to hit the area assigned to work on what could amount to a bitterly cold night in North Texas. One Associate who volunteered went the extra mile. Daniel in Information Management encountered a young man who needed a jacket. Read more about this encounter and the special recognition he received from the mission team below.
Blessed to be a Blessing
CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic spent November 2019 giving not just a little extra but A LOT EXTRA. They began by collecting an abundance of boxes and bags of donations to give to Our Daily Bread and the Refuge of Light. It took a U-haul truck to get the donated contents to their intended recipients who were filled with gratitude and a bit speechless.
The collected items – everything from clothes to paper good and toiletries – filled more than 120 boxes. The Associates also received $560 worth of gift cards.
After the success of their first drive, the Associates conducted a non-perishable food drive for the Refuge of Light. Another department within CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic, had a departmental food drive for The Refuge of Light. There was a Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner and a birthday party for one of the Refuge girls prepared by the Chef at a CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Hospital. The team of selfless CHRISTUS Associates also worked with a variety of community partners, businesses and physician practices to make many other special donations possible.
Below is a note of appreciation from the Refuge of Light.
Dear CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic,
We want to thank you for your generous outpouring of gifts for our girls.
It means so much to our ministry that you gave of your time and resources to little girls that you don’t even know. Because of your generosity, we can continue our fight against the sex trafficking of minors in Texas. It is truly our goal to show love unconditionally to the ones who have never received love, affection, or care without severe strings attached.
You met daily needs by giving the essentials for proper hygiene and body care. One of the first lessons we teach is that they are unique and were never created to be used and abused by anyone.
You gave new clothing, not used. It was such a relief when we opened the box and saw clothes with tags that have never been worn. You have made us so happy!
You gave books and journals. At our home, our girls do not have access to social media or the internet via cell phones or computers. We have found that the healing journey can start sooner and be more successful when they are free from screen time. Reading and writing are very therapeutic. Our main priorities are safety and equipping them with the tools they need to complete their education and enter the workplace.
You fed us on the biggest day of the year with traditional dishes that filled our bellies, and oh so filled our hearts. Our girls had three servings of mashed potatoes!
You gave so much, with such a high standard of service. You provided what our home needed. When the cabinets are full, we can focus on our girls with endurance, anchored in the hope that our labor is not in vain, but founded in peace.
Seventy-nine thousand children are sex trafficked in Texas on any given day. There are only a handful of homes in our state. We have state-mandated Administration, twenty-four-seven wake staff, on-site school, private teachers, and private tutors. We rely primarily on donations to run our home. We built our safe home in 2014, raised $500,00, and to this day, we are debt-free. Some months we are not sure how we are going to make payroll, but God always provides.
Thank you for showing your confidence in our ministry. It would be our pleasure and the greatest joy for you to know that you have made a difference in many lives. Your community support has been invaluable.
These are just three stories, however there are many others still to be told, as CHRISTUS reflects on now slightly more than two decades of service and to the future as CHRISTUS lives out the organization’s mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.