Among the most challenging issues facing the healing ministry today is the preparation of new and future generations of lay leaders in Catholic health care organizations. To respond to this challenge, Aquinas Institute has developed The Ashley-O’Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership. The singular focus of this Initiative is to develop and deliver theological and spiritual formation programs and experiences for leaders in Catholic health care to help insure the integrity of the healing ministry of Jesus into the future.


What does the Ashley-O'Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership offer to health care leaders?

The Ashley-O'Rourke Center makes formation opportunities available to leaders at all levels who are seeking to enrich their understanding of the Catholic theological tradition and its call to continue the healing ministry of Christ. Formation opportunities include:

  • Courses and workshops at Aquinas Institute of Theology for those seeking masters degrees, graduate certificates, or Continuing Education Credits
  • Online/Hybrid courses and workshops for distance learning coupled with on-site intensive sessions
  • Course and workshop modules offered on-site at health care provider locations
  • Webinar workshops
  • E-books and other publications

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What Experience and Knowledge does Aquinas Institute bring to health care ministry formation?

For more than a decade, Aquinas Institute of Theology has been developing programs for theological education and formation for leaders at all levels within organizations such as Ascension Health, Trinity Health, and others. The individuals who have completed degrees like the M.A. in Health Care Mission or certificates in Health Care Leadership Formation through Aquinas Institute have come away with greater understanding of, skills for, and commitment to the healing ministry of Jesus.

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Who Inspired the naming of the Ashley-O'Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership?

The Ashley-O’Rourke Center is named in honor of two prominent Dominicans, Benedict Ashley, O.P., and Kevin O’Rourke, O.P., who have separately and together made significant contributions to Catholic health care.

Benedict Ashley, O.P.Benedict Ashley, O.P.Benedict M. Ashley, O.P. (born 1915) is a theologian and philosopher whose major influence on Catholic theology and ethics in America has been evident in his writing, teaching and consulting.. The author of 19 books, Fr. Ashley was a major voice in the development of the "River Forest School" of Thomism. He has taught at numerous institutions, including Aquinas Institute of Theology, where he served as president from 1962 to 1969, and was later Associate Professor at the Center for Health Care Ethics at St. Louis University’s Health Sciences Center. Health Care Ethics: A Catholic Theological Analysis, which he co-authored with Kevin O’Rourke, O.P., and Jean de Blois, C.S.J. (fifth edition), is considered to be a fundamental text in the field of Catholic bioethics.

Kevin O’Rourke, O.P. (1927-2012) was the founder and director of the Center for Health Care Ethics at St. Louis University’s Health Sciences Center from 1979 to 1999. In that position, Fr. O’Rourke taught, mentored and influenced the lives of hundreds of medical and nursing students, as well as scores of students in health care administration. He is a former president of Aquinas Institute of Theology. In a career that spanned more than five decades, Fr. O’Rourke was a credible and sought-after expert in the field of health care ethics. He authored several books and dozens of articles, including the foundational text Health Care Ethics: A Catholic Theological Analysis, co-authored with Benedict Ashley, O.P., and Jean de Blois, C.S.J. Among his most significant contributions to Catholic health care ethics is his work on appropriate care at the end of life, in particular the use of artificially supplied nutrition and hydration for persons in persistent vegetative state. He was Professor of Bioethics at Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago from 2000 until his death in 2012.

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How can I find more information or register for the Ashley-O'Rourke Center's offerings?

We invite you to consider your participation in the healing ministry of Jesus and welcome your questions and discussion. For more information, contact Mary Lindsley by calling (314) 256-8857 or emailing at

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