Originally published in the Medicine Hat News
Four nuns who worked at St. Joseph’s Home before 2012 made their return to the facility on Thursday.
Carmelite Sisters Gabriel John, Mary Peter, Mary Rita and Mary Regina were employed by St. Joseph’s Home prior to it being brought under the umbrella of Covenant Health.
They were accompanied by Fr. Frances Tran of the Diocese of Calgary, Covenant Health president and CEO Patrick Dumelie, former premier and chair of Covenant Health’s community board Ed Stelmach, and Covenant Care president Truman Severson.
Mary Rita, the home’s administrator for 17 years, said it feels great to be back.
“We feel right at home, just like we did when we were here,” she said.
“I am so grateful to Covenant Health for keeping it, inviting us back (and) making such a wonderful welcome at St. Joseph’s.”
Mary Rita said she got involved in seniors care for the same reason she joined the church.
“I was very interested in seniors care in helping people and making a change in their lives hopefully,” she said.
Stelmach, whose premiership from 2006 – 2011 gave birth to Alberta Health Services, said Covenant Health is looking to possibly open a new facility in town.
Covenant Health works in conjunction with AHS to deliver care in its facilities, offering seniors care through Covenant Care.
Dumelie said that although it’s a separate entity from the government, many of Covenant Health’s facilities are funded by AHS, like the Carmelite Hospice on the third floor of St. Joseph’s, named after the sisters.
“The sisters really started this in the ’50s and up until recently … they did it without any government support or funding,” he said, referring to the Carmelite Sisters broadly, rather than the specific nuns in attendance.
Stelmach said his experience with faith-based healthcare goes back to when he stayed in a Catholic Ukranian hospital in Andrew, Alta., after an injury when he was six.
“They taught me a lot about volunteerism and they taught me a lot about holistic healthcare — body, mind and soul,” he said.
“It’s got nothing to do with politics or religion. It’s about providing passionate care. The nuns’ doors are open to everybody.”