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History of Via Christi

A long tradition of quality healthcare and service

On Oct. 1, 1995, the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita brought together their healing ministries — each with its own rich history — to form Ascension Via Christi. During the first week of October every year, Via Christi holds a Via Christi Celebration, honoring the creation of the health ministry.

Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother

In 1889, Mother M. Frances Streitel, founder of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, dispatched members of her newly formed congregation to America to solicit funds and establish ministries. The Sisters learned of St. Francis Hospital, a struggling facility in Wichita. The Sisters took charge of St. Francis Hospital in 1890, and, within a decade, had turned the hospital toward prosperity.

The same year, the Sisters established a healthcare ministry in Wisconsin and just over a quarter century later established a healthcare ministry in Tulsa, OK. The congregation has continued its growth in healthcare and education, establishing in the United States and in several foreign countries.

Congregation of St. Joseph of Wichita

When the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita first arrived in Kansas in 1883, education was top priority. Twenty years later, they moved into healthcare, opening a hospital in Pittsburg, KS, (now Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg) to care primarily for immigrant miners and their impoverished families. That 20-bed hospital served the Pittsburg community until 1968, when a community campaigned helped raise nearly $1 million toward the construction of the current, five-story hospital.

In 1925, the congregation assumed responsibility for Wichita Hospital (now Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph). Throughout the 20th century, the Sisters expanded their healthcare ministry, sponsoring both hospitals and senior communities.

In 2007, the sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita joined with six other Sisters of St. Joseph communities to form the Congregation of St. Joseph.

Ascension Health

On April 1, 2013, Ascension Via Christi became a full part of Ascension Health, the largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health system in the nation.

Mercy Regional Health Center

Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan, KS, was formed in 1996 by combining The Saint Mary Hospital and Memorial Hospital.

In February 2014, the hospital announced it would become a full member of Ascension Via Christi. Since 1996, Via Christi and the Memorial Hospital Association had a 50-50 ownership of Mercy, with Via Christi providing management services.

Ascension Medical Group

Wichita Clinic opened in 1948 under the vision of 10 physician partners. Originally on East Douglas, the main clinic was expanded and remodeled five times. By 1985, though, the clinic had outgrown its original branch and moved to a new location at 3311 E Murdock.

In June 2011, Wichita Clinic became part of Ascension Via Christi. Ascension Medical Group now has more than 200 doctors practicing in more than 40 specialties in approximately 20 locations.