Joe Impicciche: Let's keep moving together toward a future shining with hope

June 2024
Joe Impicciche, CEO of Ascension, takes the stage at the 2024 Catholic Health Assembly in San Diego after being installed as CHA’s 2024-2025 Board of Trustees chair.



2024-2025 chairperson
CHA Board of Trustees
CEO, Ascension
St. Louis

I am both honored and humbled to step into this role at such a significant time in CHA's history — where our shared vision is to "empower bold change to elevate human flourishing."

There is so much meaning conveyed in that vision statement. And it's a commitment I know each of us holds sacred as we join hundreds of thousands of associates, clinicians, leaders and partners across our ministries in meeting the changing needs of the times. We live in a world that needs bold change. But not just any type of change — change that elevates human flourishing by promoting and defending human dignity.

And that type of transformational change must begin with us. What if we began to think and talk about our ministry not as a collection of health care systems, hospitals, clinics and related facilities, but as a loving ministry of Jesus that not only promotes human dignity, but is also dedicated to enabling people to thrive? How would that change our conversations? How would that influence our decision-making? How would it shift the stories being written about us? How might that even influence the way we treat one another?

The commitment to human dignity is at the very heart of our shared ministry. The belief that every person is made in the image and likeness of God — and is deserving of respect — is the light that illuminates and guides our service each day. Looking back into our history, we know that being agents of love and compassion in a world filled with suffering shaped the original calling of the women and men who founded these ministries. Central to their "yes" to service — and central to ours today — is the promise set by Jesus in his very example of love.

As I prepared for this role, I spent some time reflecting on the mission statements of each of our ministries. You'll notice the word "love," or one of its derivatives, is the most common promise across all of our mission statements. This is a profound invitation for those delivering care and those who support care delivery. We can each participate in the loving ministry of Jesus by the way we engage with and lead our ministries.

By his example, Jesus offers us a radical invitation — to be agents of love through each decision we make, each communication we offer, and each interaction we have. And I've become convinced that if we all did just that — focusing on bringing love to each interaction — so many of our problems would find solutions. Jesus' ministry was radically loving and inclusive. What better model to follow than his?

One of my favorite books is Holy Moments: A Handbook for the Rest of Your Life by Matthew Kelly. Kelly is a prolific Catholic writer whose basic premise in the book is that we all have the ability to create meaningful moments if we slow down just long enough to open ourselves to the presence of God, set aside self-interest, and do what we prayerfully believe God is calling us to do. It also means each of us has the power — by virtue of our very humanity — to be agents of bold change by creating dozens of loving, holy moments each day.

Our tradition is filled with examples of the power of presence in such moments. One of my favorites is the gospel story of Jesus visiting Martha and Mary. St. Luke tells us that when Jesus visits the home of these sisters, Martha is busy with chores — cleaning the home, preparing a meal, tending to every detail — much like I saw my Italian grandmother do countless times.

This certainly rings true for us in Catholic health care today. The past four years have been filled with change, worry and suffering — especially the trauma our clinicians experienced as they led the pandemic response. Our ministries face great internal challenges — associate engagement, retention, financial headwinds, and operational pressures. And, collectively, Catholic health care in this country is a lightning rod, politically and socially. While all of these challenges require our steadfast response, they can also become distractions from what matters most.

Martha's sister, Mary, shows us a different way. She responds to Jesus' presence by sitting at his feet and listening to him speak. Her example shows us that, while there is work to be done, focusing on the real priority properly orders everything else.

Every ministry across our CHA community is different — and at different places in their journeys. Yet, united by our shared vision statement, we are rooted in a tradition of radically inclusive love that allows us to grow together, toward a future shining with hope. 

By virtue of our very humanity, we have all the gifts we need to respond with courage, creativity and compassion and to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Catholic health care ministry, especially for those who need us the most. 

Each one of us has a distinct and indispensable role within the tapestry of Catholic health care. Our presence in these roles is not arbitrary; rather, it is a manifestation of divine providence, a calling from God. 

We are not here by accident. He has called us to his service to do his will at this particular time in history. How will we respond to his call? Our answer to that question is all that really matters.


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