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Santa Barbara Regional Bishop Thomas Curry’s opening words set the tone for St. John’s Regional Medical Centers’ Centennial Mass celebrated Sept. 24 at Santa Clara Church in Oxnard.“Jesus was approached by the followers of John the Baptist and was asked, ‘Are you the one who is to come?’ Jesus said, ‘Go back and tell John: The blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear.’ And that was enough for John. He knew then that it was Jesus.” Bishop Curry then said to those assembled, “Today we celebrate 100 years of miracles.” The Mass took place 182 years to the day in 1829 when Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, opened the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, to care for poor women and children. The Sisters and their associates today refer to Sept. 24 as “Mercy Day,” an appropriate choice to launch the celebration of the anniversary of the founding of St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard.In 1911, Oxnard community leaders asked Father John Laubacher, Santa Clara’s pastor, to help establish some sort of care for the many people living on the Oxnard Plain. Father Laubacher invited the Sisters of Mercy to come to Oxnard; a year later, a six-room wooden structure on ten acres of land was established and named after Father Laubacher’s favorite saint, St. John the Evangelist.The ensuing century has seen four incarnations of what is today West Ventura County’s largest medical facility. For 100 years the Sisters of Mercy have provided outstanding compassionate care and healing for those in need through St. John’s in Oxnard and St. John’s Pleasant Valley in Camarillo. Prior to Saturday’s celebration Laurie Eberst, president and CEO of St. John’s Regional Medical Center, spoke of the dedication and “passion for compassion” of the many Sisters of Mercy. “The Sisters of Mercy have devoted their lives to the sick, the poor and the uneducated, helping people to overcome the obstacles that keep them from living full and dignified lives,” she said. The medical centers have been lauded for their mobile outreach and Health Ministries programs, award-winning Palliative Care and End-of-Life programs and many other special services, such as St. John’s Cancer Center of Ventura County. In 1997 St. John’s Hospitals joined Catholic Healthcare West hospitals in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties to form CHW Central Coast.“The Sisters of Mercy and their mission,” said Eberst, “have inspired St. John’s administration to transform their facility into an officially recognized ‘Healing Hospital,’ one that promotes healing through a holistic approach focused on meeting patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.” In addition to Bishop Curry, those assembled last Saturday included Msgr. Jon Majarucon, pastor of Santa Clara, the Sisters of Mercy, St. John’s officials and staff, and numerous “friends of the hospital.” Descendants of Oxnard’s founding families who helped establish St. John’s were among the ministers in the liturgy — names such as Borchard, Laubacher, Friedrich, McGrath and Maulhardt. In the offertory procession, Patty Paumier carried her blue volunteer jacket with name pin as an offertory gift. For the last 41 years she has been a volunteer at the hospital and is a longtime member of the hospital’s board of directors (as well as its gift shop manager). “I love it,” the 2011 Cardinal’s Award honoree smiled in discussing her volunteer work that is a family tradition (her mother was a volunteer in the gift shop until she was 84). “If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be doing it. It started many years ago; I was at home, I had my children, and I felt I was so blessed that I wanted to give back. You know, when you volunteer, you receive much more than you ever give.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0930/stjohns/{/gallery}