Document Type


Publication Date



Arts and Humanities | Catholic Studies | Health and Medical Administration | Health Services Administration | Medicine and Health Sciences | Nursing | Nursing Administration | Religion


Kari-Shane Zimmerman, Theology


In today’s ever-changing healthcare landscape, Catholic U.S. hospitals have undergone a change in their mission and thus their identity. This paper argues that Catholic hospitals need to rediscover the origins of their ministry. This can be accomplished by refocusing their efforts away from mergers with secular entities that deal strictly with life and death issues to mergers that more fully engage the care for the poor and vulnerable. To provide the context for this paper, Part One will present an overview of Jesus’ ministry, which is the foundation for Catholic health care. Part Two will address the history of the Catholic hospital in the United States in an attempt to show a rich past for attending to the needs of the underserved. Part Three will be a case study of St. Cloud Hospital in Minnesota which will be used to examine this history on a condensed scale. An interlude will highlight present day hospital mergers combined with the use of the principle of caritas and the theory of cooperation. Lastly, Part Four will provide a practical application piece in order to address what Catholic hospitals can do in order to better live out their mission derived from Christ, starting with a new kind of merger.