Across CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Health System, there are associates and providers at every level of the organization who joyfully give their time, effort and resources to help others on a remarkable scale–from mission trips overseas to serving their neighbors at home in Central Louisiana. The mission of CHRISTUS Health is to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, and that mission extends beyond the walls of the hospital.
Dr. Philip Cole, II, hospital surgeon with Mid Louisiana Surgical Specialists, is a faithful example of the giving spirit among the physicians at CHRISTUS. He joined a medical mission trip to Kathmandu, Nepal in October 2017, with Calvary Baptist Church and Baptist Medical Dental Mission International, that served in underprivileged areas on the outskirts of the city. The team held medical clinics over four days where they shared the love of Christ with more than 600 patients.
“Mission trips are a way to show love and care for people who are outside of our normal routines and spheres of influence,” said Dr. Cole. “I think mission trips help renew and refresh our compassion and desire to truly help patients. Everyone can benefit by giving of themselves to others, and there is no role too small because everyone that contributes is important. That’s true on foreign mission trips as well as in our home hospitals and clinics.”
“The mission of CHRISTUS Health…is one of the things that has kept me at the hospital,” said Billy McRae RN, BSN, Director of CHRISTUS Community Clinics in Central Louisiana. “When I was in nursing school, I trained at different hospitals and have experienced other places–but I always felt like there was something different with Cabrini. For example, we open our meetings with a reflection or prayer. It’s one of the things that drew me in and has kept me here. As a Christian and medical professional, working at a faith-based institution has allowed me to bring both my passion for helping others and my clinical skills together.”
McRae started serving on mission trips 20 years ago during nursing school because he wanted to travel with a purpose. To date, he has been on multiple trips including hiking for weeks in the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal with Baptist Medical Dental Missions International (BMDMI) a group out of Mississippi. He’s also spent time in Kathmandu building homes and churches after an earthquake ravaged the area. He’s served in the high mountain villages training caregivers to combat the almost 70-percent infant mortality rate as well as developed a co-op to sustain villages’ agriculture and economy.
“Last year, my daughter and I went to Honduras for a week,” said McRae. “We were setting up dental and medical clinics in villages and saw around 700-800 people in 3 days, giving out medicine and pulling a lot of teeth. I wanted to bring my daughter because, while the health care side is cool, I wanted to show her how blessed we are and how many things we take for granted,” he explained. “I came into health care to help people, to try and better their lives.” McRae says he wants to fulfill that calling in all aspects of his life, not just inside the walls of the hospital.
Not every person called travels halfway around the globe to make an impact. A glance out the window anywhere reveals the needs of a community. Chantelle Thorpe, RN and Case Manager in the Physical Rehabilitation department at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, has traveled across the country sharing her gifts. Thorpe is a talented vocalist and sings in the choir at her church, The Pentecostals of Alexandria, but Thorpe’s talents are not limited to her voice. She is heavily involved in local outreach efforts ensuring her voice rings out no matter if she is singing or serving in other ways.
“We do all kinds of things,” said Thorpe. “On the bus route ministry, we traveled around town and go pick up kids who don’t have transportation or who wouldn’t be able to make it to church otherwise. Our ‘Matthew 25 Day’ is something I really love to take part in. We have teams of people who cook and serve food at different areas of town, feeding the homeless, ministering to people and inviting them to come worship with us.”
She also participates in health clinic events where all the nurses in the congregation join together to provide free health care checks throughout the year like blood pressure, sugar levels and other basic preventive measures. Thorpe draws inspiration from each of the interactions. “It humbles me and makes me realize the blessings and opportunities I have,” said Thorpe. “It makes me want to give more to the people who need it. It makes me want to continue to reach out.”
Patrick Braquet, MDiv., MBA, the Director of Mission Integration and Spiritual Care Services at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Health System, says his daily activities are spent ensuring the mission of CHRISTUS Health is woven throughout the health care experience. But, like so many people at Cabrini, Braquet’s devotion is not contained to campus. Both his profession and his mission work in Mexico building homes for the poor and working with youth groups in repairing the homes of the elderly are built on belief.
“My faith is what inspired me into this work,” said Braquet. “But it is the encounter of Christ in those with whom I work and minister to that has carried me through each experience. The inspiration I receive carries into a deeper faith, a broader experience in the family of God, and a more grateful heart in daily living. To experience Christ through helping others has a lasting impact.”
Braquet believes deeply that if anyone is able to participate in mission activities—inside or outside the country—they should seize the chance, “As the ‘harvest is great, and laborers are few’.” But he cautions, “It’s important to respect the cultural surroundings of those you serve.” Maintaining a respectful stance as a spiritual leader at Cabrini has helped Braquet gain invaluable perspective on sharing the CHRISTUS mission to all. “We cannot say: ‘We are here to help you, poor people,’ but rather ask ‘What can we do to be of service to our brothers and sisters?’,” said Braquet.
Welcoming those in need and seeking to minister to them is the heart of each associate and provider’s story. While CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini has many who have given of themselves in service of others and its mission, all attribute the attraction to such work as getting to the heart of medicine–the direct care of those less fortunate. All have a shared sense of a higher calling and recognize the practice of medicine can be complicated. Yet through all its complexities, the common mission unites the Associates. From the accounting office to the emergency department, to those who help keep the facility clean, each person works in the exercise of caring for the sick.
By sharing the mission of CHRISTUS Health outside the walls of a hospital or clinic, Cabrini Associates find purpose and reaffirm their deep calling to be the messengers of Jesus Christ in all things. As Thorpe says: “At CHRISTUS, we believe we are the hands and feet of Christ. Working for an organization that allows me to put my faith into action daily always touches me. Just as my community service, working in a faith-based institution allows me put myself out there and help others, building faith in people and my character.”