Legacy of the Sisters of St. Joseph Lives on Locally
*The following content appeared in the Eureka Times Standard on May 27, 2023, as part of Chief Executive Darian Harris' monthly submission of "Health Matters".
As a health care organization founded by incredibly strong women, Providence’s history is proudly steeped in the traditions of our foundresses, the sisters of St. Joseph and the sisters of Providence. For over a century, they’ve served everyone, especially the “poor and vulnerable” in our communities. As modern health care has evolved, the mission-driven legacy of the sisters has remained strong in our hospitals, even as the number of “women religious” has decreased nationally over the years.
Despite declining numbers, the sisters still play an important and crucial role in our organization, especially here in Humboldt County, where the sisters of St. Joseph founded St. Joseph Hospital Eureka more than 100 years ago and Redwood Memorial Hospital more than 60 years ago.
To share more about their critical role and our partnership in caring for those who need us most along the North Coast, I’ve reached out to Sister Thuy Tran, Board Member (St. Joseph Hospital & Redwood Memorial Hospital) and Mission Services Coordinator for Providence, to help provide some insights into their role today.
What does “serving the poor and vulnerable” mean to Providence, to you?
The term that the sisters of St. Joseph use from 1650 is the “Dear Neighbor.” The “dear neighbor” is anyone that is poor and vulnerable in our neighborhood, communities, and our ministry that we are called to serve. The vulnerable and our “dear neighbor” can be anyone that comes to our hospital that need our care and compassion.
What made you want to become a sister of St. Joseph and what is the role of a sister at Providence?
We are all called to live out our vocation whether it is religious life, married life, or single life. The best example that I can give people about my discernment to religious life is the journey of falling in love with someone. My journey with God was like that.
The sisters of Providence and the sisters of St. Joseph are both women religious communities. The sisters of St. Joseph are called to bring Unity and Reconciliation to our broken and wounded world. An example is: Are there relationships in your life that need healing? The sisters of Providence’s gift to the church is bringing God’s compassionate care to the poor and vulnerable.
What is your role within Providence, and specifically, your role in support of Providence Humboldt County?
Currently, I minister by ensuring that our caregivers, providers, community board members, and volunteers know their “why” in serving Providence. I enjoy accompanying our caregivers, providers, community board members, and volunteers by ministering closely with them to ensure that we are in alignment and integrating our mission, vision, promise, and values. I also serve on the community board and community health investment committees at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Redwood Memorial hospitals, where I also advocate and ensure that we are in alignment and integrate our mission, vision, promise, and values of Providence in all that we do.
What is your educational background? And how do you leverage your experience as a sister and health care leader to support our ministry in Humboldt?
I hold a master’s degree in health care mission and a doctorate in health care administration. I feel it is a privilege and a responsibility as a sister to be as present as possible with our caregivers, clinicians, and Humboldt community. We stand on the shoulders of the sisters of St. Joseph and the sisters of Providence, who started the healing ministry of Jesus. I want to ensure that we are continuing the healing ministry as the founding sisters are entrusting our caregivers and providers to carry on the ministry of Jesus into the future.
What are you most proud of regarding the care provided to our community in Humboldt County?
I am most proud that Humboldt County is receiving exceptional, quality, and compassionate care. Also, I am most proud of the Providence team for caring for those with are homeless, mentally ill, and marginalized in the community. Providence has invested a lot of resources and money into the community to ensure that we are taking care of the poor and vulnerable, our “dear neighbor.”
What is your favorite thing about Humboldt County?
The first favorite is the people who are living and serving in Humboldt County. The second thing that comes to mind are the redwoods and beauty of Humboldt County.
What are you most looking forward to in this next chapter for Providence Humboldt County?
In this next chapter, I look forward to seeing and continuing to support the legacy of the founding sisters living out in Humboldt County and that our caregivers are a part of the founding legacy, too.