We are now in the season of the Resurrection of the Lord – the joyful season of Easter. Our lives and days are taking us rapidly to the celebration of Pentecost Sunday, or as it is sometimes known “The birthday of the Church.”
Reflecting on the feast days of the Saints in our Liturgical calendar these days, I was struck by the fact there is a “bridge” that joins the seasons of Lent and Easter together: the two feast days of St. Joseph – March 19 and May 1, the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker. St. Joseph’s feast day of March 19 is very ancient on the Liturgical calendar; as the “earthly” father of Jesus, the patron of the dying and of the Universal Church. The emphasis of the feast of May 1, St. Joseph the Worker, emphasizes the work of St. Joseph as a carpenter and teacher of Jesus, and in that role, the value of the human person and the work that he or she is engaged in. This day was put in the Church’s calendar as a “counterweight” to the Communist regime celebrations (especially in Moscow) on May 1 – or “May Day” as it is called, with its display of the repression and devaluation of the human person in their work.
In the light of these two feast days of St. Joseph that draw Lent and Easter together, we can thank the Lord for the presence of the Sisters of St. Joseph here in Orange, and especially their St. Joseph Health System and all of the mission and effort for the community and the common good that comes from this Health System, with its long and life-giving history here in Southern California and beyond. I know this not only from my meetings with the Sisters and their various boards, but from my scheduled and unscheduled visits to their hospitals here to see our people. Some of my visits are a surprise, just like any pastor, so I see and experience firsthand the care for the sick, suffering and the dying.
These days many of us know that the St. Joseph Health System and Providence Health & Services are in discussions for a merger, so that the mission of Catholic Health Care that is care for all can be strengthened here on the West Coast. I know of Providence Health & Services as well, from my days when I was the U.S. Bishops’ Liaison to the Catholic Health Care Association.
We can thank both of these religious communities and their boards, staff and collaborators in ministry as they work through the complicated proceedings of this merger. In reflecting on this heritage of faith and care for so many in these complicated times, I would refer all of us to the words in the introduction of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services:
“In faithful imitation of Jesus Christ, the Church has served the sick, suffering and dying in various ways throughout history. The zealous service of individuals and communities has provided shelter for the traveler; infirmaries for the sick; and homes for children, adults and the elderly. In the United States, the many religious communities as well as dioceses that sponsor and staff this country’s Catholic Health Care institutions and services have established an effective Catholic presence in health care. Modeling their efforts on the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, these communities of women and men have exemplified authentic neighborliness to those in need (Luke 10: 25-37). The Church seeks to ensure that the service offered in the past will continue into the future.”
Continued blessed days of this season of the Resurrection to all, and thank you for your witness of faith and sacrifice and generosity in the Mission of the Body of Christ here in Orange County.