The Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace:
A Heritage of Healing and Compassionate Care
On August 3, 1890, two members of the fledgling Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace left their convent in Newark, N.J. bound for Fairhaven, Wash., a remote logging community in the country’s far northwest corner. Their charge: to build a hospital to care for loggers, mill workers, fishermen and their families. The opening of St. Joseph Hospital ushered in more than a century of Catholic health care ministry in the Pacific Northwest by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and their lay colleagues.
Mother Francis Clare had founded the order in England in 1884. She was an activist Irish nun who became internationally known for her work and writing on behalf of women and the poor, though her reformist zeal often put her at odds with Church hierarchy. To this day the religious community remains committed to its foundress’s vision of achieving peace through social justice in its life and ministries.
By 1916 the spirit that defined and launched the health care ministry in Fairhaven had grown to include five hospitals in Washington, Alaska and British Columbia; in 1936 it reached into Oregon as well. In the early 1970s the Sisters decided to form a separate structure to oversee their hospital services, to more effectively meet the challenges of contemporary health care, and to partner with qualified laypersons who share in this important work. The name of the organization was changed to PeaceHealth in 1994 to better reflect the mission and heritage of the organization. Since change and adaptation are well known to the Sisters, in March 1997 the system Board of Trustees received the status as a Pontifical Private Juridic Person. This ensures the continuation of the healing ministry as a Catholic health system under lay leadership to the communities in which we serve.
The Sisters entrust to their lay colleagues the important mission of carrying out the healing mission of Jesus by being dedicated to exceptional medicine and compassionate care.
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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded healthcare in small communities throughout the Pacific Northwest since 1891. In 1976 they decided to consolidate the healthcare ministries of their Western Province by forming a not-for-profit system, Health and Hospital Services, which was renamed PeaceHealth in 1994. PeaceHealth now operates seven hospitals, medical office complexes, chemical-dependency services, home-health services, medical laboratories, and other services in five regions, each with its own history:
Southeast Alaska Region (based in Ketchikan, Alaska)
Whatcom Region (based in Bellingham, Washington)
Lower Columbia Region (based in Longview, Washington)
Oregon Region (based in Eugene, Oregon)
Siuslaw Region (based in Florence, Oregon)