HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Celebrates 125 Years of Caring for the Community
November 14, 2023
Celebrated by Bishop Michael McGovern, Bishop of Belleville, the Mass recognized the parishioners of St. Dominic who built the first hospital in 1898. The celebration also honored the four religious communities who answered the call to care for the community throughout St. Joseph’s history: Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross, and the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis (HSHS). Representatives from each of the religious communities were in attendance at the event. St. Joseph’s Hospital has had at least one Sister on staff throughout all 125 years of service.
Community residents supported the hospital’s beginnings in the form of a donation of nine acres of land from Elizabeth Speckman and $18,000 in funds raised by the local community. The hospital was founded on September 1, 1898, by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. The Poor Handmaids operated the hospital until 1917. When the sisters withdrew, the Notre Dame Sisters led the hospital through the flu pandemic. In 1921, the Holy Cross Sisters assumed responsibility for the hospital and led it forward as a modern health care organization. The Hospital Sisters assumed sponsorship in January of 1987 and have helped lead the hospital forward to its current success today.
In remarks shared at the event, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Breese President and CEO Aaron Puchbauer reflected on the journey that has brought the hospital to this point in their history, a journey that began 125 years ago with a vision of healing, compassion and care. He shared, “We remember the pioneers who laid the foundation of HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital in Breese, guided by a commitment to serve and heal. Today, we honor their legacy, the tireless dedication of our staff, the countless lives touched by our hospital's care, and the unwavering support of our community,” he said.
The anniversary also offered the hospital an opportunity to look forward with anticipation their future growth to continue meeting residents’ health care needs close to home. Puchbauer shared just some of the growth that has occurred since the Hospital Sisters’ sponsorship began in 1987. He shared, “Over the last 36 years, we have renovated existing departments and added more space to meet the needs of our community, including a Women and Infants Center renovation and adding the HealthPlex, a new Emergency Department and Outpatient Surgery Center, just to name a few,” he said. “More recently we continue to grow services to the community with the addition of a renovated Clinton County Rural Health building in Carlyle to support a growing practice, the launch of a da Vinci robotics program to modernize our surgical services, and the construction of a new orthopedic and podiatry clinic to support these growing service lines.”
Puchbauer continued, “The outlook for HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital remains strong, and we are certainly proud of our rich history and thankful for all the great work of the Sisters, who have come before us, and look forward to many successful years to come.”
Photo Caption: On Sept. 6, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Breese celebrated their 125 years of caring for the community. At the celebration, representatives from the four religious communities who sponsored the hospital throughout their history were honored and in attendance, which included the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ (PHJC), School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross (SCSC), and the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. Shown left to right are: Sister Nichola Truong, OSF, Hospital Sisters of St. Francis; Sister Edith Schneider, PHJC; Sister Pam Falter, OSF, Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and spiritual care manager at St. Joseph’s Hospital Breese; Sister Germaine Hustedde, PHJC; Sister Jomary Trstensky, OSF, Hospital Sisters of St. Francis and Chair of Hospital Sisters Ministries; Sister Maureen O’Connor, OSF, Superior of Hospital Sisters of St. Francis; Sister Theresa Markus, SSND; Sister Dorothy Niemann, SCSC; Sister Linda Songy, SCSC; Sister Kathy Wisneski, SCSC; Sister Zita Klimek, SCSC; Sister Margaret Anne Henss, PHJC; and Sister Trudy O’Connor, OSF, Hospital Sisters of St. Francis.
HSHS Illinois Communications Manager