Sr. Juliana Casey, IHM, died Dec. 29 under hospice care at the Monroe, Michigan, motherhouse of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She was 82.
An acclaimed theologian, Sr. Casey was a thought leader in Catholic health care for nearly three decades. She began her health care career in the late 1980s at CHA where her knowledge of theology, and her teaching and writing skills dovetailed.
As CHA's vice president of mission services, Sr. Casey pioneered a program to prepare people to be mission leaders in health care facilities. In 1991, she wrote CHA's Food for the Journey: Theological Foundations of Catholic Healthcare. Considered an essential formation resource to this day, the book explains theological concepts including how Catholic health care is a visible form of Christ's healing mercy and how Catholic health care functions as an essential ministry of the Catholic Church. The book also delves into the social justice teachings of Jesus and how they are reflected in the health ministry's special attention to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.
Sr. Juliana Casey, IHM, signs copies of her book Voices From the Journey during the 2015 Catholic Health Assembly.
In 1994, Sr. Casey moved from CHA to a post as vice president for mission services at the Sisters of Mercy Health System in St. Louis, now Mercy. In 1999, she joined Catholic Health East, where she was executive vice president of mission integration and led the formation of the system's sponsors, trustees and executives. At CHE, she influenced many health care and hospital administrators with her theological acumen, says an obituary from her congregation. (Trinity Health and Catholic Health East merged in 2013.)
After Sr. Casey's 2010 retirement, she was a consultant and served as a member of the sponsor board of Providence St. Joseph Health.
Dr. Rod Hochman, president and chief executive of Providence, said, "Juliana was a tireless advocate for serving the poor and vulnerable. She was truly a force for good. I was blessed to witness her commitment and compassion up close many times during her service as a Providence sponsor. Her guidance was incredibly helpful to Providence as we steered our mission toward the future. Her influence on leaders in health care cannot be overstated. Juliana will be deeply missed, but there is comfort in knowing that she leaves behind a deep legacy that will continue to guide and inspire us well into the future."
In 2015, CHA published Sr. Casey's Voices from the Journey, a book that celebrates the people of Catholic health care. In it, Sr. Casey shared the perspectives of a housekeeper, a sponsor, a physician, a family member, a patient and others in Catholic health care facilities.
Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, CHA president and chief executive officer, said of Sr. Casey: "Over the years, she inspired so many in Catholic health care to embrace their call to serve the healing ministry of Jesus. Her ability to provide a solid theological foundation with creativity and practicality set the standard for formation."
Born in Detroit on Oct. 19, 1940, Juliana Casey earned a bachelor's degree from Detroit's Marygrove College and a master's degree from the University of Michigan. She entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1964.
She taught at every level of education from elementary school through graduate school.
She earned an ecclesial doctorate from the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium in 1977. From 1979 to 1985 she was provincial of the Northeast Province of the IHM congregation.
She was a prolific author, lecturer and scripture scholar, concentrating on biblical theology, spirituality and women's studies. She represented women religious on a committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that focused on peace, an experience that led her to write and lecture on the subject in subsequent years.
A poem that Sr. Casey included in Voices from the Journey included these lines:
"May the One who gives rest
Bless you and hold you close.
And may you, in your very being,
Be a place of rest for others."
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