CHA president and chief executive officer Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, gave the following remarks at the dedication ceremony for the rebuilt St. Francis de Sales Hospital January 15, 2015, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“This is a celebration and a milestone for the members of the Catholic Health Association of the United States. Our members are U.S. health care organizations who share with St. Francis de Sales Hospital the commitment to continuing Jesus’ mission of caring for and healing the sick and injured, the young and the aged, expectant mothers and newborn babies, and particularly, those who are poor and in great need.
“I am so proud and so grateful to the CHA-member organizations who responded to CRS's initial emergency request for funds immediately after the earthquake devastated this beautiful country and then donated more than $10 million to Catholic Relief Services for the rebuilding of this hospital and the strengthening of health care for the people of Haiti. It is heartwarming to know that, in their generosity, they have played so significant a role in rebuilding St. Francis de Sales as a modern teaching hospital.
“I was honored to be present in Rome last Saturday at a Vatican conference on Haiti. In his message to us at the conference, the Holy Father told us that the rebuilding of this country rests on three solid pillars: the human person, ecclesial communion, and the local church. It is obvious that the partnership between the Haitian church and U.S. Catholic health care—represented by our members’ great generosity to this rebuilding project—is a wonderful example of the communion Pope Francis spoke of.
“I cannot resist saying a special word to the doctors and nurses and others who will staff this hospital and especially to the medical and nursing students who are its future. I wear the pin of the University of Notre Dame of Haiti in solidarity with you. You have a great opportunity for health care, the Church and your dear country.
“A Catholic hospital is not just a facility that gives the right medication or does surgery correctly. It is that and so much more--it must be a place where people feel their dignity as children of God is always respected whether they are rich or poor, young or old, born or unborn, any religion or political party. This respect is at the heart of the Catholic identity of a hospital.
“In a country where there has been so much physical and emotional trauma, what a gift this can be. You have a facility worthy of their dignity. You will be the ones who provide the care and respect worthy of children of God.
“CHA and its members are grateful to the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince for the opportunity to be partners with the local church in advancing the health ministry here in Port-au-Prince. We have sought to be true partners, sharing our expertise as well as our financial support, but also learning from our friends here in Haiti.
“Across the United States, Catholic hospitals participate in the evangelizing ministry of the Catholic Church, living as signs of God’s grace at work in our world today. Likewise, this new St. Francis de Sales Hospital is now a sign of God’s love and grace to the people of Port-au-Prince and all of Haiti. This is truly a blessed day for which we give thanks to God.”