Spreading Franciscan Values One Employee At a Time
By. Sister Nancy Surma
On May 11, Sr. Gretchen Kunz , OSF, retired from St. Joseph Health System where she had served for over three decades. Sr. Gretchen was President/CEO for 24 years and then became a senior development officer. She was recognized by the hospital and the broader community for her dedication and vision which improved the health of persons in the Brazos Valley in the eastern part of Texas. You can read more about her story at http://www.st-joseph.org/blog.cfm?id=612.
Sr. Gretchen is the Sister of St. Francis who most recently served as a CEO of a hospital. The Sisters first became involved in health care in 1917. Over the years, they managed or owned many hospitals in a variety of states. At first, the CEO and Director of Nurses were all Sisters. Gradually, lay persons took over leadership positions. In 1984 the Sisters established what is now Sylvania Franciscan Health to be the formal expression of their sponsored ministry in health and human services.
So how do the Sisters of St. Francis ensure their values and mission are lived out today in Sylvania Franciscan Health? There are a variety of ways that happens. Here are just a few that focus on people.
•Hiring leaders who will support Catholic identity and be committed to what the Sisters stand for
•Fostering formation of these leaders in a deeper understanding of what ministry means
•Placing a Sister of St. Francis as a mission integration leader in each of our ministries to make visible our commitment
•Employing Sisters of St. Francis in other jobs so that the Sisters’ presence is still visible
•Appointing board members who also are committed to Catholic identity and our values
•Requiring that at each of the external board in the system have at least one Sister of St. Francis as a board member
•Bringing new board members and executive leaders to Sylvania each year for a two-day orientation program which focuses on the heritage of Catholic health care and the Sisters as well as understanding what Sylvania Franciscan Health is
•Orienting all new employees to our mission and values
Knowing that our lay partners in ministry are fully committed to what we Sisters hold dear is assurance that our desire to extend the healing ministry of Jesus will continue into the future.