Ashley-O'Rourke Initiative for Health Ministry Leadership

Modules for Ongoing Executive Formation



Religion and Spirituality

This module explores the distinctive roles religion and spirituality play within a faith-based healthcare ministry organization. The module addresses the need for conversations about diverse value systems in today’s ministry settings. It will examine the connections between religion and spirituality in order to more fully appreciate the implications both have in the work place. Participants will:

  • Consider their personal understandings of religion, spirituality, and their inter-relatedness;
  • Articulate how their understandings of religion and spirituality contribute towards a personal sense of identity and purpose;
  • Reflect on the relationship between personal religious faith and the guiding principles that animate the health ministry;
  • Develop an ecumenical awareness and appreciation for the gifts that diverse religious and spiritual traditions contribute to the institution.

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Catholic Social Teaching

This module examines the fundamental insights of modern Catholic social teaching (CST) as they relate to the ministry of Catholic healthcare. Participants will study the basic principles of CST and grapple with how the social vision embedded within this teaching calls us to act with integrity as people of faith and as ministry leaders. Participants will:

  • Understand the basic insights and principles of Catholic social teaching, particularly as they relate to critical issues encountered in the delivery of healthcare services today;
  • Articulate and operationalize the basic ethical principles of Catholic social teaching that should guide Catholic healthcare today and into the future;
  • Present the fundamentals of Catholic social teaching in a compelling manner to colleagues within the ministry.

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Human Dignity and the Common Good

This module takes a “deep dive” into the meaning, content, and complexity of the two principles that form the bookends of the extraordinary body of work known as Catholic social teaching. These two concepts articulate in very practical terms the vision of the Reign of God proclaimed by Jesus, of which Catholic healthcare is a visible witness and effective sign. Participants will:

  • Understand the authentic meaning and implications of human dignity and the common good;
  • Explore and grapple with the challenges raised with regard to these principles by our highly individualistic and consumer-driven culture in the context of Catholic healthcare;
  • Examine and reflect upon the key virtues of compassion, hospitality, and solidarity as those needed by ministry leaders to effectively act on the demands made by the principles of human dignity and the common good.

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Preferential Option for Poor and Vulnerable Persons

This module assists leaders in deepening their understanding of how the preferential option for poor and vulnerable persons can be lived out within Catholic healthcare today. Rooted in the biblical tradition of Jesus’ own love and care for poor and marginalized persons, the presentations in this module will dispose leaders to:

  • Develop a critical consciousness of the conditions that make poverty and marginalization a reality in our society and world today;
  • Take seriously their responsibilities to actualize their concern for poor and vulnerable persons through ongoing advocacy work;
  • Recognize, resist, and respond to the social, cultural, and political biases toward persons who are poor and vulnerable both within the populations we serve and in the broader society.

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Participation and Subsidiarity

This module begins with the realization that the ways organizations are structured have implications for more than productivity and quality; organizations effect the moral formation of persons who work in them. The principles of participation and subsidiarity address both the right of individuals to have a “voice” in the workplace as well as the responsibilities of leaders to insure that all associates can realize that opportunity. Participants will:

  • Understand the content and demands of these two principles as they relate to the meaning and significance of human work expressed in Catholic social teaching;
  • Develop and implement practical, value-based approaches to strengthening participation and subsidiarity within their ministries;
  • Identify and grapple with structural impediments to insure that all associates within Ascension Health ministries have a voice in their respective organizations.

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This module focuses participants on the transformative character of the mission and values at the heart of Catholic healthcare. Specifically, participants will take a “long, loving look” at the vision that drives Catholic healthcare and explore how institutionalized ministry can function transformatively in light of that vision. This module challenges participants to expand their vision of mission, to recognize the collaborative significance of their roles, and to embrace their shared responsibilities. Participants will:

  • Explore institutionalized ministries as agents of the Reign of God;
  • Consider how the healing ministry of Jesus, understood as restoration of relationship, might function within their own context;
  • Recognize the potentials, as well as the challenges of their ministries to effect transformation.

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This module invites participants to reflect upon their experience of being gifted and sent for the mission of Catholic healthcare. The module assists participants who want to deepen their sense of personal connection, enthusiasm and commitment to the healing ministry. Participants will consider the biblical and pastoral roots of Catholic healthcare as an expression of the healing ministry of Jesus. Going deeper, participants will reflect and participate in activities that focus on:

  • God’s initiative in calling us to service and our response as servant leaders;
  • Paying attention to God’s initiative through reflection on gifts, talents, and personal responsibility;
  • Growing in awareness of the actual needs and hopes of others;
  • The integrative task of aligning personal gifts with external needs, discerning how God desires me to serve in this situation.

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This module builds upon past experiences and courses to consider the place of prayer in the life of a healthcare ministry leader. Meant for women and men who already have some experience in leading prayer, this retreat seeks to deepen and expand participants’ competencies as prayer leaders. In a retreat setting, this module provides time and space for leaders to share prayer and grow in their ability to lead prayer, inclusive of all God’s people. Specifically, participants will:

  • Explore the art of creating sacred spaces for prayer and reflection;
  • Consider how one enters into and participates in the prayers of others, specifically the prayers of those from various religious traditions;
  • Recognize and respond to the Divine invitation to prayer within our ministries;
  • Practice praying spontaneously in times of crisis and in the face of human suffering.

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For further information, please contact Colleen Mary Mallon, O.P., Liaison to Sponsored Ministries
314.256.8870 or

© Aquinas Institute of Theology