On February 3, 1892, four Daughters of Charity stepped off the train in El Paso, Texas, USA. Within a day the Sisters had laid the foundations for Hotel Dieu hospital, an institution that would welcome thousands of El Pasoans into the world, provide critical care for the ill, offer quality health care to the poor, and train nurses for service throughout the world.
In more recent years the Daughters transitioned their efforts, establishing a community health ministry known as San Vicente Health Center to provide primary health care to low income families. This kind of transformation is in keeping with their origins— as the poor village girls in 17th century France became the Daughters of Charity, and throughout their history, they were asked to initiate organized opportunities for charity: the orphanages, the hospitals, etc. They stayed as long as necessary until others were prepared to take over; eventually their skills were not needed; others were qualified to take the reins, and in the missionary spirit encouraged by Vincent and Louise it became the Daughters’ opportunity to then go and be where others could not or would not be. The same holds today.
In the case of El Paso, the Daughters continue to innovate: given the disastrous situations of the immigrants, the Daughters are blessed to accompany them as they need, once again reimagining their founding charism.
“We should assist the poor in every way and do it both by ourselves and by enlisting the help of others… to do this is to preach the gospel by word and by work.” – St. Vincent de Paul
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