Ascension Health was formed in 1999 when the four provinces of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (now combined into one province, the St. Louise Province) that were Sponsors of the Daughters of Charity National Health System, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, Mich. (now part of the Congregation of St. Joseph), brought their health systems together. In 2002, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet became the sixth Sponsor when its health system became part of Ascension Health.
Beginning in 1999, representatives of the sponsoring organizations served on the Ascension Health Sponsors Council, and in 2006 two lay members joined the group. In 2010 members of the Sponsors Council recognized that Ascension Health is a ministry of the Church that transcends the individual sponsoring organizations and determined that a non-congregational sponsorship model better enabled the stewardship and strengthening of the ministry.
In the summer of 2011 the Vatican approved creation of a non-congregational public juridic person (PJP) to serve as the sole Sponsor of Ascension Health. As the sole Sponsor, the PJP – known as Ascension Health Ministries – assures the ministry will be sustained and strengthened over time, with both religious and lay persons serving as members of Ascension Health Ministries, being responsible for the ministry and welcoming others to join.
A 2012 restructuring created Ascension Health Alliance as the new parent organization of Ascension Health. In 2012 a member of the Congregation of Alexian Brothers joined Ascension Health Ministries as Alexian Brothers Health System joined Ascension Health. In 2013 the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother also joined the sponsorship structure as the three regional health systems that comprised its Marian Health System joined Ascension Health.