About the Alexian Brothers Health System
Crest of the Immaculate Conception ProvinceCrest of the Immaculate Conception Province
The Crest of the Congregation of Alexian Brothers Immaculate Conception Province is a modified version of the Seal of the Congregation of Alexian Brothers. The upper half shows a pelican nourishing her young with her heart’s blood – a symbol of the self-consuming character of real Christian love. The two spades represent the burial work performed by early Brothers in times of calamity. The flying raven symbolizes the feeding of the destitute, a virtue practiced by the Congregation for centuries. Surrounding the symbols are the words of St. Paul: “Caritas Christi Urget Nos,” or “With us, the love of Christ is a compelling motive.” (Corinthians 5:14) The cross projecting form the top of the logo indicates that in the cross is salvation.
Seal of the Congregation of the Alexian BrothersSeal of the Congregation of the Alexian Brothers
The seal of the Congregation is divided into three fields. In each field is a symbolic representation of the end or work of the Institute.
The upper half shows on a red background the Pelican nourishing its young with her heart’s blood – a symbol of the self-consuming sacrifice of Christian Charity.
The two spades on the black blackground, in the lower half, is a remembrance of former activity of the Alexian Brothers in burying the dead in time of calamity.
The flying raven on a silver-grey background represents the feeding of the destitute, a virtue the Congregation has practiced for centuries.
From the back of the shield projects the cross, indicating that in the cross is salvation. Inscribed on the band are the words of St. Paul:
“Caritas Christi Urget Nos”
“The Love of Christ Compels Us”
Alexian Brothers Mission
Alexian Brothers Health System carries out the healing mission of the Catholic Church through the Alexian Brothers ministries by identifying and developing effective responses to the health and housing needs of those we are called to serve.
Alexian Brothers Health System Vision Statement
Alexian Brothers Health System will engage all our associates and partners in a prophetic, holistic approach to healthcare, rooted in Gospel values and the 800-year legacy of the Alexian Brothers. We seek to bring healing to a broken world through collaboration with others.
We will fulfill this vision through emphasis of:
- Person-centered, quality healthcare that addresses the physical, mental, spiritual and social needs of the people we serve;
- Caring for those at the margins, especially the poor, the dying and those who are overlooked by society;
- A prophetic approach that is daring in addressing the true health needs of our society;
- Local engagement that addresses the needs of the diverse communities we serve by meeting people where they are;
- Formation of those who work and minister in our healthcare system to ensure that all have a deep commitment to our mission and values;
- Wise stewardship of resources that achieves both fulfillment of the vision and fiscal responsibility.
Alexian Brothers Charism
The Alexian Brothers’ Charism is the prophetic and daring response of a faith community to the gospel of Jesus. It is rooted in prayer and simple life style. In discipleship with Jesus our response is reaching out to the poor, sick and dying, especially the marginated and the powerless. Our charism calls us to conversion and total self-giving in continuing the healing and reconciling mission of Jesus in collaboration with others.
Early History of the Alexian Brothers
The Alexian Brothers ministry began in the Middle Ages, as Europe slowly emerged from centuries of ignorance and superstition. In the Low Countries and along the Rhine, small groups of men and women banded together to carry on Christ’s commands. They would tend the sick, feed the hungry and bury the dead. These were dangerously unorthodox activities in the 12th century. Most people, out of fear, shunned the sick and dying, forcing them outside the city gates, to subsist on the leavings of the more fortunate.
The first written account of the Brothers is dated 1259 in a document referring to the Beguines and Beghards. The name of these communities evolved from the word “Algignese” which means “heretics.” These communes of celibate men and women were looked upon as unorthodox or heretical because of the type of life they lived. Gradually, these communes became more organized. By the middle of the 13th century, many received support from the Franciscan order. But some among them maintained their independence. It was from these-a handful of dedicated laymen along the Rhine – that the Alexian Brothers grew.
Horror struck the continent in 1346 – the Black Death… the Plague. In a single generation it undermined the very foundations of European society. Family ties became meaningless as the healthy fled in terror from their stricken kin. The Brothers stayed, risking their lives, to nurse the victims of the plague, to care for them and bury them when they died.
When the Plague passed, the men chose St. Alexius, a fifth century saint who was devoted to the poor and sick, as the patron of their first chapel. With the passing of time, reference was made to them as “Alexian Brothers” by the people they served.
One of the first communities of Alexian Brothers was in the historic city of Aachen, Germany. In surrounding villages and towns, smaller, loosely formed communities were established primarily in the Low Countries and the Rhineland. In 1472, Pope Sixtus V approved and confirmed the Alexian Brothers as a religious community under the rule of St. Augustine.
Hard times were in store for the Brothers. A fire destroyed their house in Aachen in 1656, which they rebuilt into one of the first hospitals for the mentally ill. Then came the French Revolution in 1797, with all religious orders abolished by law with the exception of the Ursuline teaching Sisters and nursing orders. Laws limited the Brothers to twelve men, and their property and administration came under government control. By 1812, after the Concordat with Napoleon, only three Brothers were left in the community of Aachen.
Torn, and under suspicion by the government, the Brothers were forced into secular life-style until 1856. Brother Dominic Brock, in 1854, began to rebuild the decimated community just in time to send his men to battlefields and field hospitals in the wars of 1864, 1866, and 1870.
Under Brother Dominic the Brothers’ numbers grew and their work began to spread from Germany to the United States, England, Ireland and then Belgium. Brother Bonaventure Thelen landed in the United States in 1866 and established the first Alexian Brothers Hospital for men and boys in a small house on Dearborn Street in Chicago. After a move to larger quarters, the great fire of 1871 destroyed everything they had worked so hard for. Quick to rebuild on the same site, the city plans of a new elevated line forced them to move to yet another location, Belden Avenue.
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During this period the headquarters of the Immaculate Conception Province was established in Chicago (1869), where it remains to this day. The Brothers expanded their work, establishing hospitals in St. Louis, Missouri (1870), Oshkosh, Wisconsin (1880) and Elizabeth, New Jersey (1892).
Today, the Alexian Brothers are located in Germany, Belgium, England, Ireland, the Philippines, Hungary, and the United States. The Alexian Brothers story is by no means finished. The Brothers remain committed to the healing ministry and the community, as they did more than seven centuries ago. The names and faces may change, by the spirit of love and sacrifice remains. There is still much work to be done
Alexian Brothers Philosophy
The Congregation of Alexian Brothers participates in the healing ministry of Christ within the Catholic Church. Empowered by gospel values, we Alexian Brothers sponsor health related institutions and older adult services dedicated to this healing ministry. With trustees and administrators chosen because they share our commitment toward those most in need, we promise support to those trustees and administrators who participate in our ministry.
Alexian Brothers Values
Compassion. We manifest God’s presence in the world by a concerned approach and competent care of those we serve.
Dignity of the Person. Because we believe that all individuals are created in God’s image. Therefore, we treat them with respect.
Care of the Poor. We serve the sick, aged, dying and unwanted of all socio-economic levels, especially the poor.
Holism. We promote healing of the whole person (body, mind and spirit) through physical, psycho-social and spiritual care of the whole person.
Partnership. We collaborate with those who share our ministry in carrying out Our mission.
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