On Tuesday, June 22, the Sisters of St. Joseph celebrated an important anniversary – 98 years since they arrived in Humboldt County to make a difference in the community.
Now known as the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, the sisters, led by Mother Bernard, landed in Eureka on the SS Kilburn on June 22, 1912. Originating in Le Puy, France, the sisters left their former community in La Grange, Ill., and traveled by train, then by boat, to reach Humboldt County.
The pioneering sisters were led by Mother Bernard, a woman who was characterized by faith, foresight, flexibility and pioneer spirit that enabled the group to adapt to Humboldt County’s changing needs. Though originally intending to serve the community by opening schools, the sisters soon realized the community had different needs: health care services.
During the flu epidemic of 1918, the sisters focused their energy into providing health care for the community and eventually opened the first St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka in 1920.
"Mother Bernard and the sisters realized that the community was in desperate need of health care services," said Sr. JoAnn Eannareno, vice president of Mission Integration for St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial Hospital hospitals. "Then and now, the sisters are dedicated to meeting the needs of the dear neighbor without distinction and to bringing all persons into union with God and with one another that ‘all may be one.’"
Over the years, the sisters expanded their health care ministry to other areas of California, ultimately launching St. Joseph Health, an organization based in Orange, Calif., that operates 14 health care facilities all over the state and in Texas and New Mexico. Locally, St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial Hospital hospitals employ nearly 1,300 and provide comprehensive health care services to the greater Humboldt County region.
In two years the sisters will mark a century of service to Humboldt County and other communities in California at a 100th anniversary jubilee. Details about this celebration will be made available as the anniversary nears. Until then, visit www.stjosepheureka.org to learn more about the Sisters of St. Joseph and their work caring for the dear neighbor.