St. Alexius fosters its Catholic identity through Lenten tradition

Teak Phillips |
Related Articles: 

When the Alexian Brothers hosted a "24 Hours for the Lord" observance last weekend at St. Alexius Hospital, they knew it would serve as one more example of how the health care facility is maintaining its Catholic identity.

The Lenten celebration, which takes place in Rome and in dioceses around the world, features churches that are open all night for prayer and adoration. The hospital took a slightly different route by offering a noon Mass March 13, with 24 hours of adoration following.

Alexian Brother Richard Lowe read about the tradition, and the idea of people all over the world praying at one time appealed to him. "Prayer is more than just nice thoughts," he said. "There's an awesomeness to it that moves people."

The south St. Louis hospital's roots date back to 1869, when Brother Bonaventure Thelen arrived from Chicago and helped open the facility. In 1997, the brothers transferred sponsorship of St. Alexius, but the Catholic identity has remained, said Brother Lowe, even with several changes in ownership in recent decades. Current owner Success Healthcare LLC purchased the hospital in 2008.

St. Alexius serves a large population of uninsured and underinsured patients, CEO Michael Motte said. Many are not Catholic, but prayer is an integral part of the healing process, for both patients and staff.

"We are a real big faith-based community," chaplain Bopsy Miller said. "We all respect each other, and I am happy to see that other people are coming in and signing up for adoration who are not even Catholic. We presented it as this is your time to be with God, and that is very much recognized."

Chaplains aren't the only ones offering prayers; sometimes they come from housekeeping or nursing staff, for example. "Right on the spot, people will just stop and say, 'Pray for me,'" Miller said. "It's not unusual to see people in the hallway praying with each other. That's a gift to see in a privately owned place."

The hospital also recently initiated an ethics education program to teach staff the Catholic perspective on the dignity of the human person and hosts an event to showcase a component of the hospital's mission or its values. Mass in the St. Joseph Chapel is a regular part of the week, as is prayer. The brothers, who live close by, are still very much involved in the life of the hospital, serving on the board or volunteering in different capacities. Earlier this year, they began offering adoration once a week in the hospital chapel as part of the Year of Consecrated Life.

"The spirit of the brothers is still here," said Miller. "They're pretty humble and simple people, and those are the people we serve. That is the uniqueness of this hospital and is what makes people stay or come back."

Spend time with the Lord at St. Alexius

Mass is celebrated in the St. Joseph Chapel at the Broadway campus of St. Alexius Hospital six days a week; Masses are celebrated at 5:15 p.m. (with evening prayer) Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Devotions are at 9:15 a.m. the first Tuesday of the month.

For the Year of Consecrated Life, the Alexian Brothers are offering eucharistic adoration in the chapel from 4-5 p.m. on Thursdays.

The hospital is at 3933 S. Broadway in south St. Louis. 

Spiritual care

Watch a short video that explains the spiritual care patients receive at St. Alexius Hospital:

No votes yet