With 19 institutions employing more than 8,000 people, and a budget of $597 million, Catholics are a major part of health-care delivery in Manitoba.
This week (Oct. 6-12), Catholics are invited to celebrate the way they contribute at the second annual National Catholic Health Care Week.
"It’s a week to promote the fact we have been here for a long time, with an unwavering commitment to serve all, especially the most vulnerable," said Julie Turenne-Maynard, executive director of the Catholic Health Association of Manitoba.
Most Manitobans don’t realize Catholics have been involved in health care in Manitoba since 1845, she noted, starting with the Grey Nuns. In addition to the largest Catholic institutions, such as the St. Boniface and Misericordia hospitals and St. Amant, Catholics in Manitoba also operate a number of personal care homes and other smaller health-related agencies.
Canada-wide, there are 129 Catholic health-care institutions, with a budget of about $6 billion. They serve more than five million people a year.
During this week, Catholics are invited to reflect on how Catholic health-care institutions promote "a deep respect for the intrinsic value and dignity of every human being and an unwavering commitment to serving all people, from all backgrounds and faiths," Turenne-Maynard said.
Themes include "celebrating the courageous gift of health care;" "healing body, mind and spirit;" "honouring people’s stories;" "social justice;" and "being leaders in health care."
Through the week Turenne-Maynard hopes Catholics will think about the concepts at the heart of Catholic health care — such as community, solidarity, common good, and social responsibility to those most vulnerable.
She also hopes it will cause them to "reflect on quality of life, the importance of human connection, and the meaning of well-being of body, mind and spirit."
"Our Catholic identity is grounded in a core belief that it is a privilege to attend to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those we serve, offering them comfort, healing, and love," she said, adding this is especially important now, during the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the pandemic, all activities related to the week are taking place online. For more information, visit www.cham.mb.ca.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.