On behalf of Bishop Zarama I congratulate the Sisters of St. Francis, Dr. Francis Owens, Mrs. Audrey Kennedy and the St. Joseph Hospital Guild, the Sisters of Providence and all the current staff of St. Joseph of the Pines in all its locations for keeping this dream alive for serving God’s people no matter their state in life. Congratulations on 70 years, may it be but a prelude to what is to come!
- Monsignor Gerald Lewis
Employees, friends, patients and beneficiaries of St. Joseph of the Pines gathered to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the health care and retirement facility that continues to serve the elder care needs of the growing Southern Pines community. Monsignor Gerald Lewis of the Diocese of Raleigh was among the guest speakers who addressed the crowd gathered near the 2nd tee of Pine Needles golf course on the front lawn of the Tudor Revival building that opened as the Pine Needles Inn in 1928, only to close shortly thereafter during the Great Depression.
Monsignor Lewis said that Bishop Vincent Waters, the third Bishop of Raleigh, had a dream and took a risk in purchasing the inn. Bishop Waters desired both to serve the local community, which was in need of better health care, and to promote the Catholic faith in a region where Catholics were not well known. The Diocese of Raleigh was very small, with only about 13,000 Catholics scattered across the state, and had very little money. While the original purchase included approximately 500 acres, the diocese later sold the golf course and surplus land, retaining 19 acres for the hospital.
Since 2013, St. Joseph of the Pines has been owned and operated by Trinity Health, a Catholic health ministry. St. Joseph of the Pines President Tim Buist and Steve Kastner, president and CEO for Trinity Health Senior Communities, joined Southern Pines mayor David McNeil and Monsignor Lewis in sharing memories of St. Joseph of the Pines’ storied past and recommitting to the organization’s mission to care for people regardless of their income.
Beginning in the 1990s, with the encouragement of then-Bishop F. Joseph Gossman, more than 200 apartments were constructed in surrounding Aberdeen, Red Springs, Carthage and Robbins for elders with low incomes. The nearby Belle Meade life care community opened in 1999, featuring a clubhouse, cottages and apartments for independent living. The Coventry and family care homes for assisted living were later added to the Belle Meade campus. More recently, St. Joseph of the Pines opened the state's largest PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) program in Fayetteville, an innovative model of care for hundreds of elders who needed skilled care but who wish to stay in their home.
Today, St. Joseph of the Pines, with the help of its benefactors, is an aging services network offering a full continuum of retirement housing, health care and community-based services for older adults as well as community outreach to those in need. The organizations currently provide housing and care on seven campuses for 1,500 elders, approximately 70% of whom have low incomes.