Founding President of Sisters of Charity Health System Honored by Catholic Health Association


CLEVELAND – June 7, 2011 – The Sisters of Charity Health System’s founding president, Sister Mary Patricia Barrett, CSA, has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Catholic Health Association of the United States of America (CHA).

Presented last night at CHA’s 2011 Catholic Health Assembly in Atlanta, the award is conferred each year upon "an acknowledged leader of health ministry who has inspired and mentored numerous others. A recipient’s leadership extends past the Catholic health ministry to influence and impact the local community and beyond."

Sr. Mary Patricia was the first president of the Sisters of Charity Health System, a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization that oversees the sponsored ministries of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, a congregation of sisters who in 1851 began an enduring legacy of responsive ministry, creative stewardship and an ongoing quest for social justice.

Establishing the Sisters of Charity Health System

Sr. Mary Patricia responded to God’s call in 1957 by entering the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. After serving in various social services positions at CSA-sponsored hospitals and in administration at a home for dependent children, Sr. Mary Patricia was elected major superior of the congregation in 1973. In 1982, Sr. Mary Patricia led the planning process that led to the formation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health & Human Services (now known as the Sisters of Charity Health System). As the first president of the system, Sr. Mary Patricia led its establishment, formulated its strategic vision and welcomed its first board members. Her vision engaged and inspired the boards and employees of the system’s  hospitals, which laid the foundation for future growth and expansion of mission and ministry.  The health system combined the hospitals’ strengths to better respond to industry fluctuations and support shared services, strategic planning and common mission initiatives.

Since its inception, the Sisters of Charity Health System has grown exponentially. Nationally recognized for high quality care, innovative initiatives in mission effectiveness  programs and collaborations, the health system today serves Canton and Cleveland, Ohio and Columbia, South Carolina through more than 20 organizations responding to community needs. These ministries include five acute care hospitals, three grant making foundations, and several health and human service community outreach ministries. "The Sisters of Charity Health System continues to extend its healing mission because of Sr. Mary Patricia’s vision and encouragement of laity as co-ministers with the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine," said Terrence P. Kessler, Esq., board chair, Sisters of Charity Health System.

Addressing the Root Causes of Poverty

After successfully leading the health system as president for seven years, in 1989 Sr. Mary Patricia welcomed and supported the organization’s first lay president and accepted dual responsibilities as chair of the board of trustees and vice president of mission and ministry. 

It was during her role as board chair that the Sisters of Charity Health System made a historic decision in 1995 to create three joint venture partnerships with a national investor-owned corporation. This decision led to continuing Catholic health care while also expanding the philanthropic ministry to include the Sisters of Charity Foundations in Canton, Cleveland and South Carolina (the Saint Ann Foundation merged with the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland in 2006).

Through strategic grantmaking, convenings and collaboration, each organization works to address root causes of poverty, nurture the growth of healthy communities, emphasize the needs of youth and families, and measure outcomes of these efforts. Together, the Sisters of Charity Foundations invest more than $10 million annually in grants to strengthen their communities and those most in need.

"Sr. Mary Patricia’s ongoing legacy has infused each ministry and its employees with a true belief in extending the healing ministry of Jesus to all of God’s people," said Sr. Judith Ann Karam, CSA, president and CEO, Sisters of Charity Health System. "While leading the health system and its board, she had a presence at each ministry to give support to the implementation of mission and values and service to those in need.”

Continuing the Mission

Sr. Mary Patricia's long-standing commitment to quality Catholic health care has continued long after she stepped down as president of the health system. That commitment has been demonstrated by her active participation on the boards of directors of CSA-sponsored hospitals as well as many area organizations. She also has served on the boards of Hospice of the Western Reserve; the Canton Medical Education Foundation in Canton, Ohio; and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. She remains active in ministry following her retirement in March 2011.

"At every stage of her ministry, she has been sensitive to the needs and joys of people, and is genuine in her responses," said Sr. Miriam Erb, CSA, congregational leader, Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. "For many people—employees, physicians, patients and their families, sisters, community leaders and strangers in need—she continues to be behind hundreds of handwritten notes that congratulate, express sympathy and encourage them to get well."


The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), founded in 1915, supports the Catholic health ministry’s commitment to improve the health status of communities and create quality and compassionate health care that works for everyone. The Catholic health ministry is the nation's largest group of not-for-profit health systems and facilities that, along with their sponsoring organizations, employ more than 750,000 women and men who deliver services combining advanced technology with the Catholic caring tradition.


The Sisters of Charity Health System was established in 1982 as the parent corporation for the sponsored ministries of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in Ohio and South Carolina. The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, since founding in 1851, continues a faith-based legacy of high-quality, compassionate care in partnership with its co-ministers, who are the heart and hands of the ministry.   

The Sisters of Charity Health System solely owns four Catholic hospitals: St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio; Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio; and Providence Hospital and Providence Northeast in Columbia, South Carolina. In a 50/50 joint venture with University Hospitals of Cleveland, the Sisters of Charity Health System also co-owns St. John Medical Center in Westlake, Ohio.

The Sisters of Charity Health System also oversees three grantmaking foundations located in Cleveland and Canton, Ohio, and Columbia, South Carolina. Each foundation sponsors significant community initiatives and collaborations that address causes and consequences of poverty.
Other health and human services and education-related organizations within the Sisters of Charity Health System include Joseph’s Home, a unique residential care center for homeless men in Cleveland; Early Childhood Resource Center for people working in childcare in all settings in Canton; and Healthy Learners, a health care resource for children from low-income families in South Carolina.

The Sisters of Charity Health System also provides residential eldercare services at Regina Health Center in Richfield, Ohio, and Light of Hearts Villa in Bedford, Ohio. Light of Hearts Villa is jointly sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. 

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Rebecca L. Gallant

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