Sponsor & History
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.
St. Katharina Kasper
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.
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
2018 marked the 150th anniversary of the Poor Handmaids in America, and the 20th anniversary of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation. In the first 20 years the St. Joe Foundation distributed over 20 million dollars to care for the health of vulnerable populations throughout Northeast Indiana.
Since the sale of the St. Joseph Medical Center in 1998, the Sisters have continued to provide aid to the poor and underserved in Fort Wayne through the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Health Visions Fort Wayne.