“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” John 17:20-21

As a part of the one body of Christ and working toward the Kingdom of God, Catholic health care must continually reach outside itself to participate in the life of the Church. An essential element of being the hands and feet of Jesus on Earth today, Catholic health care commits itself to acting in communion with the institutional Church.

Traditionally we have done this through offering sacraments and prayer and displaying the signs and symbols of our faith. For much of our history women and men religious were the concrete operational and spiritual link to the wider Church. In more recent years we have added the formation of leaders and co-workers to understand, appreciate and uphold our unique identities and core values. Even so, these practices are each internal to our facilities. No part of the Church exists for itself, but has to expand beyond its walls.

The Latin root of our word communion, communio, indicates fellowship, sharing and mutual participation. True communion does not happen without active participation in answering the call of the Gospel. Therefore, to act in communion with the Church, indeed to act as Church, is to collaborate with the parishes and diocese in which we serve. It means we prioritize partnerships with other Catholic ministries in our local context.

Jesus’ life was a dynamic combination of teaching and preaching, service and healing. To the extent we participate with our brothers and sisters who teach and preach in the name of Jesus and those who serve in his name in all manner of ways, we are better able to manifest the fullness of Christ’s body on earth and bear witness together to the Kingdom of God that both is and is to come.


For Reflection

“You are the Body of Christ. In you and through you the work of the incarnation must go forward. You are to be taken. You are to be blessed, broken and distributed, that you may be the means of grace and vehicles of eternal love.” Saint Augustine

  • Do I / we honor and operationalize the identity of our ministry as a “Catholic work”?
  • Do I / we reach out to the other Catholic ministries for local, regional and national partnerships?
  • Do I / we uphold the commitment of Catholic moral and ethical teachings?
  • Do I / we build or tear down community among our family and team and neighborhood?
  • Do I / we actively participate and bring the fullness of ourselves to those around us?


God of all times and places, in each generation you gather a people unto yourself called to serve, teach and heal in your name. Send your spirit over your Church across the world that we may labor together to do your will, reveal your love and share your goodness. In this season of reflection and prayer, give us the graces we need to more fully follow you and become who we claim to be in your name. Amen.

(c) Catholic Health Association of the United States of America. Reposted with permission.

“And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

The Last Judgement in the Gospel of Matthew is both one of the most well-known and unsettling passages of scripture. Jesus clearly lays out the expected behaviors of believers. Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, take care of the sick and visit the imprisoned. These six tasks are straightforward, but not always simple.

Sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz expresses this challenge Christ offers in Matthew 25 in three dimensions. His life-size bronze statues depict Jesus as he calls us to see him: homeless, stranger, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and imprisoned. In each, the face of Christ is obscured in a drape of cloth or bent elbow and Jesus is known only by the wounds of the crucifixion. Across the world, these works have scandalized and challenged the communities in which they are installed. In North Carolina and Indiana, police and paramedics were called to respond to homeless Jesus. The statues have been critiqued as insulting, demeaning, creepy and even sacrilegious. And yet, why should they surprise us since in Matthew 25 Jesus promised that in the least of these is where we would see him and answer our call to serve him.

Joeann Karibo explains this call succinctly in her reflection on A Shared Statement of Identify for the Catholic Health Ministry. “For the members of the Catholic health ministry, creating an option for the poor cannot simply be providing charity care to those who come to our health facilities in crisis and without the financial means to pay for needed services. A true option for the poor requires a commitment to mobilize and nurture the growth of individual and community capabilities and to create opportunity for each individual to assume a meaningful role in defining and pursuing holistic well-being, peace and hope.”

When asked about the shock and outrage of some, Tim Schmalz reminds us the art “is only as shocking as the Gospels are. It’s just a representation.”

God has always strongly identified with the poor and vulnerable. He chose a wandering nomad, the smallest nation and an insignificant teenage girl. Jesus was poor, homeless and vulnerable. This has deep implications for our call as individuals and as health care ministries. Jesus told us where to find him and we must seek to serve him in those people and places.

For Reflection

The Apostle James writes, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is that?” James 2:15-16


  • Do I / we see the face of Christ in people who are poor and vulnerable?
  • Do I / we participate in opportunities to serve the poor and vulnerable inside or outside of our workplace?
  • Do I / we participate in community building activities and efforts to address the social determinants of health?
  • Do I / we care for the poor and vulnerable among our associates?

(c) Catholic Health Association USA. Lenten reflections are republished with permission.

Welcome Bishop Perez!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Welcome Bishop Nelson Perez to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. May God bless him in his leadership!
Press release from the Diocese of Cleveland:

Pope Names Bishop Perez as Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland

July 11, 2017

Pope Francis has named Bishop Nelson J. Perez, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, N.Y., as Bishop of [more…]

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Christmas reflection: grace

Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 
We knew only his name, not his story. Leon, just 37 years old, was one of those rootless souls who, by life’s violent incisions, become severed from their history and their future. He had come to us from a local boarding home, comatose and dying. He came [more…]

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Advent reflection: hope fulfilled

Sunday, December 20, 2015

“O Radiant Dawn, come and shine on those who dwell in the darkness of the shadow of death.” O Antiphon – December 21

Have you ever been told not to get your hopes too high? The kind admonisher is trying to protect you. But you, like all human beings, still hope for everything, no matter the odds!
What [more…]

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Advent reflection: finding joy

Monday, December 14, 2015

“The Lord, your God … will rejoice over you with gladness.” Zephaniah 3:17
Is there a difference between happiness and joy? Walking through the Med-Surg area, the chaplain juggled that question. He had just left Betty whose test results had proven benign. Her reaction still echoed in his mind. Like someone waking from a bad dream, she [more…]

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Advent reflection: A channel for holiness

Sunday, December 6, 2015

“From you rose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God.” Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Lectionary: 690A
There are a few places where nature offers an experience of darkness so absolute it can be terrifying. Assateague Island lies along the barrier coast of Virginia. On a winter night, darkness there feels complete, enveloping. As evening [more…]

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Advent reflection: Transforming humanness into glory

Sunday, November 29, 2015

“On that day, the Lord will bind up the wounds of his people.” Isaiah 30:26
Christine is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She is as vital as fresh air or summer sun. She is successful, strong, sincere and faith-filled. But her heart is a fragile, hidden glass, ready to break at any moment, from a family member’s [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Holy Week

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Holy Week is the week preceding Easter, and the final week of Lent. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Holy Week includes Holy Thursday and Good Friday, which together with Holy Saturday, are known as the Triduum. [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Humor

Monday, March 23, 2015

It’s time to laugh, and here are a few nuggets to give you a chuckle:

The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.
If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?
Everyone has a [more…]

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