On November 15, 2011 Rev. James Maloney, a member of the Claretian Missionaries, passed away after a long battle with Hepatitis-C. This loss was felt everywhere, especially in South Chicago where his life’s work had a great impact. Father Maloney served at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on East 91st Street for many years, but he was also one of the original founders of Chicago Family Health Center.
“He was the first to mobilize and do something about the lack of healthcare in this community,” said the Rev. Mark Brummel, C.M.F., who is also a Claretian Missionary, a CFHC founder and current board member. “Father Maloney commissioned a study and found very few doctors were caring for the sick in the area.”
In 1977 Father Maloney and the Claretian Missionaries opened the Claretian Medical Center on 91st and Commercial with a staff of six. The clinic’s influence was so profound that the Claretian Missionaries and the community soon rallied around its expansion.
“Although we struggled, we persisted because the residents of the area needed access to healthcare,” added Rev. Brummel. “With community and government support the center was established as a Federally Qualified Health Center, providing a complete array of healthcare services right here in our neighborhood.” The Claretian Medical Center was later renamed Chicago Family Health Center to reflect its accessibility to all.
In 1979 Father Maloney left the United States to work as a missionary in more than 60 countries including Africa where he first became ill. According to Father Brummel, the Claretian Missionaries are known for being socially responsible and Father Maloney lived that element to the fullest. In 1986 he returned to Our Lady of Guadalupe where he served as pastor until 1993. He then served as pastor at a church in New Jersey but returned to Chicago and Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1997 serving there until he retired in 2005. He lived out the rest of his days in a retirement community in Homer Glen, IL.
“Father Maloney witnessed the growth of Chicago Family Health Center over the years, and he was extremely proud of his work here,” said Father Brummel. “He was a person of vision who recognized early on that everybody deserves to have access to quality health care.”
Today, Chicago Family Health Center is a network of five health center locations in South Chicago, Pullman, East Side, Roseland and Chicago Lawn providing medical and dental care as well as support programs like behavioral health, nutrition, chronic disease management and programs for moms and babies.
Father Maloney, who has a commemorative brick outside the CFHC South Chicago location, was also instrumental in bringing housing to the area through Claretian Associates, which helped build Villa Guadalupe, also located in South Chicago.