Trinity Health was formed on May 1, 2013 by the coming together of two national Catholic health systems: Trinity Health and Catholic Health East. Each brought its traditions and charisms to the unified ministry. To get an appreciation for the genesis of Trinity Health, some background on the roots of its two founding organizations is warranted.
Created by the consolidation of Holy Cross Health System and Mercy Health Services, Trinity Health brought together two rich traditions of serving persons in need.
Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross
Holy Cross Health System has its roots in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, founded in 1841 by Father Basil Anthony Moreau. During the Civil War, Holy Cross Sisters helped staff military hospitals, caring for the wounded of both the North and the South. Over the next 100 years, the Sisters opened hospitals and other health care facilities throughout the country, responding to the needs of the times.
In 1979, Holy Cross Health System was formed to bring unity as well as economic and professional solidarity to the health care organizations sponsored by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
From the mid 19th century to the present, the Holy Cross tradition has been one of meeting community needs and accepting inherent risks of changing and adapting but always being centered in reading the signs of the times and responding in faith and hope and with compassion.
In 1831, Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, to follow Christ in his compassion for suffering people. Over the next 10 years, she and her Sisters established 14 foundations to serve the poor, the sick and the uneducated throughout Ireland and England. After Catherine's death in 1841, the Sisters of Mercy took their mission to America where they responded to others' needs and suffering by founding hospitals, schools and orphanages, and establishing homes for women and girls at risk.
The Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit traces its roots to convents, schools and hospitals founded as early as the 1860s and ‘70s in Iowa and Michigan. In 1976, the Sisters created a health system, eventually called Mercy Health Services, to link and better support their hospitals.
In the fall of 1997, 12 religious sponsors brought their health ministries together to create a new co-sponsored health system – Catholic Health East (CHE). Franciscan Sisters of Allegany Health System, Eastern Mercy Health System, and Sisters of Providence Health System combined legally and operationally to create CHE and was founded January 8, 1998.
The religious sponsors formed CHE to strengthen the role and identity of the Catholic health ministry in the eastern United States. Catholic Health East was grounded in the sponsors' historic commitment to the dignity of every individual, the sacredness of life, and special dedication to caring for the poor, the elderly, and the disadvantaged.
Franciscan Sisters of Allegany
The Franciscan Sisters of Allegany were founded in 1859 by a Franciscan priest, Rev. Pamfilo da Magliano, who sought Franciscan sisters to educate children in the southern part of the Diocese of Buffalo. During the first year, three women were received into the Franciscan habit, including Mary Anne O'Neil, a young girl from New Jersey who was elected Superior General at the first Chapter in 1865. In 1883, the congregation assumed responsibility for St. Elizabeth Hospital in Boston, beginning their health care ministry, which has since extended into New York, New Jersey, and Florida, as well as overseas. The congregation's other ministries include education, pastoral and social work and homes for the young and elderly.
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
The Sisters of Mercy were founded by Catherine McAuley of Dublin in 1831. Catherine used her inheritance to build the House of Mercy for poor women and children of Dublin's slums. At the urging of local clergy, Catherine established a religious order to ensure that the Mercy mission would continue beyond her lifetime. In 1843, six Sisters of Mercy traveled to Pittsburgh to provide for the needs of immigrants. They founded the first United States Catholic hospital, Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, in 1847. Over the next 25 years, other Mercy Sisters were called from Ireland to minister in cities throughout the United States, where their health care and education ministries flourished. The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas was established in 1991 to unite 25 Mercy congregations and provinces within a common direction.
The four Mercy communities that sponsored CHE are the Mid-Atlantic Community; the New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West Community; the Northeast Community; and the South Central Community.
Sisters of Providence
The seeds for the development of the Sisters of Providence were planted in 1873 following a fund-raising trip by four Sisters of Providence from Kingston, Ontario, to Holyoke, Massachusetts. The sisters were requested by a local pastor to return to Holyoke to help with the needs of poor parishioners. The sisters returned from Kingston and began their ministry by establishing the House of Providence, which was to become the first hospital in Holyoke. In 1892, the Holyoke mission was incorporated as separate diocesan congregation, with Mother Mary of Providence as the foundress. The congregation is based on the Rule of Saint Vincent de Paul with an emphasis on Providence spirituality. The community established a variety of ministries to serve the needs of children, the poor, and the elderly. Initially concentrated in Massachusetts, services were expanded to North Carolina in 1956.
Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph
The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in 1897 by Mother Colette Hilbert of Poland. She entered the community of the Charity Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo in 1888 and was missioned to a Pittsburgh parish. When members of her community were recalled to Poland, Mother Colette and four American-born novices remained in the United States to minister to the needs of the growing immigrant population. Unable to establish an American chapter of the Polish Borromeo community, Mother Colette and the others were vested in the Franciscan habit. In 1926, the Sisters opened a home for the elderly near their motherhouse in Hamburg, New York, and opened an academy for young women several years later. The Sisters continued their expansion into the health ministry, and in 1934 they became the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph because of the foundress’ great devotion to St. Joseph. The Sisters joined Eastern Mercy Health System in 1997, becoming a founding Sponsor of Catholic Health East.