HEC Forum

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 95–107 | Cite as

What Makes a Catholic Hospital “Catholic” in an Age of Religious-Secular Collaboration? The Case of the Saint Marys Hospital and the Mayo Clinic

  • Keith M. Swetz
  • Mary E. Crowley
  • T. Dean Maines


Mayo Clinic is recognized as a worldwide leader in innovative, high-quality health care. However, the Catholic mission and ideals from which this organization was formed are not widely recognized or known. From partnership with the Sisters of St. Francis in 1883, through restructuring of the Sponsorship Agreement in 1986 and current advancements, this Catholic mission remains vital today at Saint Marys Hospital. This manuscript explores the evolution and growth of sponsorship at Mayo Clinic, defined as “a collaboration between the Sisters of St. Francis and Mayo Clinic to preserve and promote key values that the founding Franciscan sisters and Mayo physicians embrace as basic to their mission, and to assure the Catholic identity of Saint Marys Hospital.” Historical context will be used to frame the evolution and preservation of Catholic identity at Saint Marys Hospital; and the shift from a “sponsorship-by-governance” to a “sponsorship-by-influence” model will be highlighted. Lastly, using the externally-developed Catholic Identity Matrix (developed by Ascension Health and the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota), specific examples of Catholic identity will be explored in this joint venture of Catholic health care institution and a secular, nonprofit corporation (Mayo Clinic).


Catholic health care services Catholic identity Sponsorship-by-influence Sponsorship-by-governance Catholic-secular partnerships 



The authors wish to thank Jonathan J. Oviatt, Esq., Chief Legal Officer of the Mayo Clinic and the Members of the Saint Marys Sponsorship Board Inc. for their thoughtful review.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith M. Swetz
    • 1
  • Mary E. Crowley
    • 2
  • T. Dean Maines
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Saint Marys Hospital, Mayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Veritas Institute, University of Saint ThomasSaint PaulUSA

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