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The Ladies of Charity:
Women Called to Serve the Poor

A group of Pensacola women with ties to Sacred Heart Hospital has organized the Ladies of Charity, a new ministry to serve the poor and carry on a ministry that began almost 400 years ago.

The Ladies of Charity of Sacred Heart Health System was formally established June 4, 2003 with an induction ceremony for 23 charter members. The group has become the local chapter of the national Ladies of Charity organization that has about 17,000 members in 20 states.

The group is dedicated to care of the sick and the poor in the Pensacola area, following the directives and spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Their primary focus will be on serving needy families, women and children in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties.

St. Vincent de Paul founded the Ladies of Charity in Paris, France in 1617 for the purpose of assisting the poor, the neglected and the suffering. In 1633, St. Vincent and St. Louise founded the Daughters of Charity, the community of Sisters who built Sacred Heart Hospital in 1915 and still serve it today.

“Sacred Heart Hospital does a remarkable job of carrying out the mission of Christ to serve the sick and the poor,” said Sister Jean Rhoads, vice president of Mission Integration at Sacred Heart. “But with the formation of the Ladies of Charity, there is a wonderful opportunity to expand that mission further beyond the hospital walls to meet additional needs of the poor in our community. We’re excited that these women have answered the call to serve and committed themselves to this ministry.”

Projects under way include serving as mentors for youths in the Juvenile Justice Detention Center, providing personal hygiene kits for homeless shelters and the Alfred Washburn Center in Pensacola, and providing food for patients and families who are visiting outpatient clinics of Sacred Heart Health System.

Volunteers who join the Ladies of Charity accept the invitation “to serve rather than be served.”

For more information, call (850) 416-7733.

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