After a June 11 Mass at the National Shrine marking the 150th anniversary of Providence Hospital, Cardinal Wuerl poses with members of the hospital community.
After a June 11 Mass at the National Shrine marking the 150th anniversary of Providence Hospital, Cardinal Wuerl poses with members of the hospital community.
The medical care offered at Providence Hospital is a mirror of "the love, compassion, caring and healing of Jesus," Cardinal Donald Wuerl said during a June 11 Mass to close the yearlong celebration of Northeast Washington hospital's 150th anniversary.

"The Church believes care of the sick is an important part of Christ's mandate of service," Cardinal Wuerl said. "Jesus showed concern for those who needed healing."

He thanked all of the employees of Providence Hospital for working to "heal, renew, restore and transform" the sick. "Your efforts say to patients, 'As Christ would have touched you to heal you, so we do today,'" Cardinal Wuerl said.

The cardinal was the principal celebrant of the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. About a dozen priests, whom the cardinal noted have connections to Providence Hospital, concelebrated the liturgy.

Close to 300 people attended the Mass, which Cardinal Wuerl called "a joyful celebration of 150 years of (the hospital's) dedicated service to the community."

In 1861, at the invitation of Abraham Lincoln, four Daughters of Charity arrived in Washington to found the hospital. With a charter signed by the president, the four sisters began what has become the longest continuously operating hospital in Washington, D.C.

Among those attending the Mass were Daughters of Charity Sister Claire Debes, provincial superior for her order's Emmitsburg Province, and Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is the president of the Catholic Health Association and former president of Providence Hospital.

Also attending the Mass were Amy Freeman, president and CEO of the hospital; Deborah Royster, chair of the Providence Health Foundation Board of Directors; William Cox, chair of the Providence Hospital Board of Directors; many members of the Daughters of Charity; and many current and former hospital staffers.
Cardinal Wuerl praised the century and a half of ministry of the hospital, "the great tradition" of service of the Daughters of Charity, and the "energy, vision, hope, love, and confidence of the four original sisters."

Calling the hospital a "state of the art medical center," he said it has "not only remained faithful to, but has lived out as far as humanly possible, the loving care of the Daughters of Charity."

The medical services and health care offered at Providence, the cardinal stressed, is rooted in Christ.

"Throughout all of the change that has touched the delivery of health care, one thing that has not changed is the motivation of the Daughters of Charity and why the Church is involved in health care," Cardinal Wuerl said. The Church has remained "so steadfast in its commitment to health care," he said, because "our Catholic faith calls us to realize the transforming power we have received" through Christ.

He said Providence Hospital employees provide "nothing less than Christian love," and that the treatment offered at the hospital "is the love of Christ at work, the healing power of Our Lord at work."

In caring for the spiritual needs of the sick, he said, the hospital shows the infirm "there is more you and your illness need than the physical." Providence Hospital, Cardinal Wuerl said, not only offers compassion to the ill, but the awareness that "sickness, pain and suffering, and the attempt to heal that sickness, pain and suffering, are part of God's plan."

Freeman, the hospital president, echoed the cardinal's remarks. She said "Providence (Hospital) is blessed with skilled, creative, caring associates who understand that - every day, with every patient - we have a unique opportunity to help strengthen that person in both body and spirit."

Cox, the hospital's board chairman, noted that the hospital is "an extension of the healing ministry of Jesus" with a commitment to provide patients "with quality health care that is instilled with deep respect for their spirituality and wholeness."

Providence Hospital is part of Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic, non-profit health care system. Services include not only the 408-bed hospital, but the Carroll Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; the Center for Life prenatal and obstetrical care program; the Fort Lincoln Family Medical Center; the Perry Family Health Center; a police and fire occupational health center; the Congress Heights and Model Cities senior wellness centers.

Although the yearlong celebration has concluded with the Mass, the hospital has several 150th anniversary projects continuing, including a 150,000-pound community weight loss challenge, and a program to plant 150 trees.