Moving forward in faith to shape a vibrant, sustainable health ministry

December 15, 2022


By LAURA S. KAISER 2022-2023 Chairperson CHA Board of Trustees and President and chief executive officer SSM Health, St. Louis

In preparation for this year's Advent season, I began taking stock of the many blessings that surround and support us — even in the midst of the significant headwinds we face as a health care ministry and a nation.

In tumultuous times, it can be easy to forget all the ways we have been blessed by God's grace. I'm certainly guilty of this myself. Years ago, my family was going through a very difficult time. While friends, colleagues and family members embraced me with care and empathy — true angels on earth — I still found myself despairing at times. It was their support and a song called "Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns that reminded me to step back and recognize God within the stormy circumstances, with these lyrics:

Lift your hands, lift your eyes

In the storm is where you'll find Me

And where you are, I'll hold your heart ...

Come to Me, find your rest

In the arms of the God who won't let go

These words encapsulate what I've always found to be true: God is present with us in the storm. At this holy time of year, the celebration of Jesus' birth, let us praise him together, thanking him for his comfort and guidance as we make our way forward.

As a Catholic health ministry, we are leaning in more than ever to effectively serve those who are counting on us in all the communities we serve. Over the past few years, we have been challenged, fatigued and heartsick — but never defeated. We continue to ensure our patients, team members and communities receive the care they need in body, mind and spirit. Although our shared ministry is struggling financially, experiencing unprecedented workforce challenges, and facing ever-growing community need, we carry on.

Now, in the middle of the storm, we are called to move forward in faith forging a path toward a new, vibrant, sustainable Catholic health ministry. It may look different than what we have known but we will remain true to Jesus' perfect example of selfless compassion and love for all people. He cared for the sick and broken with special concern for those most vulnerable and outcast by society. He sought to restore wholeness and dignity to the marginalized. Together, we can continue to carry on, ensuring Catholic health care can continue this healing tradition for generations to come.

As we reflect on God's love amidst the storm, I'd like us to consider how we can work to innovate, advocate and choose a vision for our shared ministry in a way that ensures all people have access to high-quality, safe, compassionate care. Together, we can light the way to a sustainable future, calling others — payers, pharmaceutical companies, tech firms, disruptors, community leaders and elected officials — to partner in this effort. Together, we can reduce the health equity gap in America, address the challenge of climate change and reveal God's healing presence to all people in all that we do.

This Christmas, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the many blessings in your own life that surround and support you. I encourage you to praise the Lord in this storm, to be a beacon of hope and kindness for all to see and to thank the compassionate and empathetic people around you. The challenges and opportunities ahead are real. Working together and with his presence, I am confident we will rise.

May you and your loved ones be blessed with peace, hope and health this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

Copyright © 2022 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.