Our History

St Joseph’s Hospice Association was founded in 1962 by Father Francis O’Leary. He was a priest of the Mill Hill Mission working in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

He set up the charity in Liverpool to raise money for hospices overseas. A hospice was opened in Rawalpindi in 1964 to be followed over the next 30 years by hospices in Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras.

In 1972, the charity bought its current site in Thornton, Merseyside, and the old house there was refurbished and opened as a hospice on 19 March 1974. It was renamed La Casa de San Jose to reflect the charity’s Latin American links. The hospice was extended in 1984 and again in 1988 to provide more rooms for patients. From 1982 – 2007 the charity also operated a hospice in Ormskirk, Lancashire.

In 1992,  a major new building was constructed on the Thornton site – to become the Academy for Physical and Spiritual Endeavour. This combined patient rooms with education facilities. Renamed St Francis House, it was redeveloped in 2011 to be fully devoted to caring for patients, giving a total of 29 patient rooms. That development was made possible by a grant from the Department of Health. Subesequent grants from other funders allowed us to upgrade the facilities in the original San Jose building in 2014.

Find out about our history overseas