Joseph A. Pacera, left, is pictured with Sister Rosemarie Kolmer, O.S.F. and Al Englemann. Pacera, who was former senior vice president for corporate services at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, Camden, believed hospitals and other organizations should partner with neighbors to develop programs and services to benefit the community.
Joseph A. Pacera, former senior vice president for corporate services at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, died at the age of 54 in 1993.
“He was a very passionate person and very committed to advocacy for the poor and caring for the poor,” said Alexander J. Hatala, President and CEO of Lourdes Health System.
Hatala noted that Pacera was a leader in the fight “for high-risk maternity services for Camden, and fought for state funding for prenatal care.”
Pacera’s contributions to Lourdes and the Camden community were endless and he was influential in the development and success of many hospital-based community programs during his tenure from 1976 to 1993. Hatala recalls, “Joe was sincerely touched by the Franciscan Mission of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. He was truly an esteemed community advocate and health care leader.”
Pacera’s vision was for hospitals and other organizations to partner with neighbors to develop programs and services that address the issues of poverty, disease, crime, housing, employment and drugs. To honor Pacera, Lourdes created the Joseph A. Pacera Community Benefit Awards, which is given to individuals whose volunteer efforts have made a difference in Camden City and whose actions best exemplify the spirit and meaning of community health improvement.
“The Pacera Awards honor our ‘unsung heroes’ for volunteering their hands and lending their hearts to deserving and important Camden City programs,” said Hatala. “Award recipients are nominated by their peers for their selflessness, dedication and vision for the Camden community. These attributes uphold the vision of Joe Pacera, and for that we honor them.”
Each Saturday and on holidays, Sacred Heart Church in Camden holds a dinner for those in need at Joe’s Place, a space rehabbed by Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center and volunteers in memory of Pacera. Approximately 60-80 people are fed weekly there, keeping Joe’s benevolent spirit alive. Joe’s Place also is used for community needs including meetings, educational classes and recovery meetings.