The story of stewardship

What is stewardship? For many it is an intangible concept, one that sounds right nestled between more familiar qualities such as compassion and hospitality. The Macquarie Dictionary defines it as the act of a steward � someone who administers anything as the agent of another or others. Indeed it is, and as one of Mercy Health�s six core values, stewardship is in all that we do.  

As Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Health, Stephen Cornelissen is a key figure in the stewardship of the organisation. Stephen is entrusted with leading Mercy Health, its people, culture and resources � resources that essentially belong to those in our care. As a steward, Stephen�s role is to ensure that Mercy Health and all of its resources continue to serve now and into the future. So what does stewardship mean to him? 

�Stewardship occurs at all levels, from the Catholic Church to the Sisters of Mercy, the Mercy Health Board, management and everyone who works with the organisation. As a Catholic healthcare ministry, the importance of providing compassionate care to those in need follows a tradition of some 2,000 years. Today�s world is different − while we still have hunger and famine, today�s poor are not necessarily the financially poor. They are the marginalised, the vulnerable, the smallest voices. These are the people we want to care for and this is when our mission truly comes alive.  


 Stephen stewardship 
  Advocating for those in need: Stephen Cornelissen, Chief Executive Officer Mercy Health, meets residents from Mercy Place Parkville.


�We do not care for people in need because it is written in a policy or because that is what we are legally bound to do. We care because of our fundamental belief in the human being, the dignity of each and every person and our passion to be there at the margins of society fighting for that dignity and those people.  

�This is what being a Catholic service is about and this is fundamental to the Sisters of Mercy. We must continue to grow and develop services for those most in need, services such as palliative care, mental health, women�s health and neonatal care. We must advance care at the margins such as end-of-life care, and advocate for the aged who are vulnerable and unlikely to be individual influencers of major policy reform.   

�If we live our mission and manage our resources well, we will always be here, driving change and improvement and never forgetting the marginalised or the poor. In doing this, we can each be effective stewards in every sense of the word.�

Published in Our Voice Winter 2013


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