Saint Joseph Health System in Mishawaka, IN created this video to show the story of The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ and their ministry here in the United States since 1868. St. Joseph Hospital created this video in October 2013 as a tribute to the Poor Handmaids who have touched many lives through their ministries in northeast Indiana.

SPONSOR AND HISTORY

Our Sponsor

The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation is sponsored by The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, founded by Blessed Catherine Kasper, in Dernbach, Germany in 1851. In addition to the Foundation, the Poor Handmaids also have other ministries in the United States. Download the Community Benefit Report.

Our History

In 1868, eight members of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ traveled from Dernbach, Germany to the Fort Wayne area at the request of the Bishop to help the many struggling German immigrants. Soon after arriving, they purchased the bankrupt Rockhill Hotel and converted it into the St. Joseph Hospital, to serve anyone in the community in need of nursing, including the German immigrants. Since 1868, their ministry grew and included St. Vincent's Villa (1887-1971), an orphanage and school for homeless children; St. Joseph's School of Nursing (1920-1980), a school that offered a three-year nursing degree until its merger with the University of St. Francis; Rockhill Farm Sanitarium (1899-1923), a separate hospital for tuberculosis patients; and Villa of the Woods (1978-1982), a home for seniors. The Sisters continue to provide aid to the poor and underserved in Fort Wayne through the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Health Visions Fort Wayne, ongoing ministries from the sale of the St. Joseph Medical Center.

All of their service then, as now, adheres to their four core values: Openness to the Spirit, Community, Simplicity, and Dignity and Respect for All.

Rockhill House

In 1998, the Poor Handmaids sold the St. Joseph Medical Center and reorganized the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation with a significant share of the proceeds to advance programs, projects, and partnerships that improve access to health care and the health of the poor and powerless of Allen County. The Foundation aims to advance the work of the Poor Handmaids according to the following tenets:

  • Respecting and valuing each person
  • Standing with the poor and powerless
  • Using our talents and resources to respond to the emerging needs of Christ and society
  • Nurturing leadership in our efforts to bring peace to the world


2015 marks the 17th anniversary of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and the 147th anniversary of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ’s ministry in the greater Fort Wayne area. The Foundation contributes approximately $1,300,000 per year to improve access to healthcare and the health of the poor and vulnerable of Allen County. To date, the Foundation has invested over $15.7M through 1,022 grants to 182 local agencies that provide quality low-cost or free healthcare. In addition to providing grants to area organizations, the Foundation also operates programs to fill gaps in service to strengthen the long-term health of the community.