By Sr. Rosanne Popp, CCVI

CHRISTUS St. Mary’s Clinic is named for the first hospital established by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in 1866 to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ by meeting the unmet health needs of the people of Galveston, Texas. The clinic’s name reflectsthe continuation of that mission in the 21st century, meeting the unmet needs of the present time.
On May 29, 2023, associates and providers of CHRISTUS St. Mary’s Clinic (SMC) paused from their usual ministry to visit the birthplace of the Congregation and CHRISTUS in Galveston, Texas. The associates prepared for their trip by visiting various websites, CCVI Houston, CHRISTUS, and Foundation for Healthcare, to gain insight and historical perspective on the places they would visit; and ensure everyone did their homework; there was a quiz on the bus!
As part of their visit to Galveston, the SMC associates visited CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread (ODB), a day shelter for people experiencing homelessness. They prepared for this visit several months in advance, putting aside their “$5.00 Jean Friday” donations to purchase items requested by ODB. These funds were spent buying cases of travel-size deodorant, soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes, to be given to the ODB clients. As a special treat to the clients, the staff also bought and assembled foods for “to-go snack packs” (cookies, fresh fruit, breakfast bars, water, etc.)
While at ODB, the SMC associates learned about ministry to people experiencing homelessness and some of their unique social, physical, and healthcare needs. The SMC staff helped prepare lunch for the clients and restocked and sorted dry and canned foods inthe food pantries. In addition, they participated in a beautiful custom at ODB: before the staffbegan to serve lunch, everyone gathered in the kitchen, and one of the ODB associates led aprayer, blessing the food, the clients, and all those who attended that day.

SMC and ODB associates enjoyed lunch together and learned more about first-hand experiences of caring for those who live on the streets.

After completing their ministry duties, the SMC associates returned to the bus and visited two historical sites of great significance to the CCVI Congregation/CHRISTUS health. They visited the site where the first hospital was started in 1866 and the site of St. Mary’s Orphanage, where 90 children and 10 Sisters lost their lives in the Great 1900 storm. They were fascinated to know that the spirits of the children remain at the site (now a Walmart). Walmart employees attest to hearing children’s voices at night and often find toys lying on the floor as if someone had recently been playing with them.

At the end of the day, SMC staff felt that they had a much better connection and understanding of the mission and ministries of CHRISTUS Health and particularly felt connected to ODB. Although taking time away from a usual ministry as a team has monetary and other implications, the bonding among associates and a deepened sense of mission were obvious, evident by the most frequently asked question as the bus arrived back at St. Mary’s, “When can we do this again?” And we will, as the mission continues.

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