The Ashley-O’Rourke Center was created to develop and deliver theological and spiritual formation programs, materials, and experiences for leaders who steward the healing ministry of the Church.

We promote the transformative potential of the healing ministry of Jesus by offering programs that integrate theological education and spiritual formation for leaders at all levels in Catholic health care.


Educational Programs:

Certificate in Mission Leadership (CML), for front-line health care employees who are new to mission leadership.

The Ashley-O’Rourke Center is a leader in the field of health ministry education and is sought out by health systems nationwide for its expertise in providing a theological foundation for mission leaders at successive stages in their careers.

  • Grapple with complex ethical issues in the highly pluralistic world of health care
  • Grasp the complexities of health care within the Church’s theological tradition
  • Help ensure the ongoing integrity of Catholic health care as a ministry of the Church
  • Internet-based approach allows you to remain fully employed while undertaking studies
  • Take only one course at a time to keep your work and life balanced and manageable
  • Intensive weekends on campus bring students and faculty together for dialogue, coursework, spiritual formation, leadership development, and community building
  • Study with a community from other health systems
  • Complete the degree in two years

Additional Services:

We also partner with individual Catholic health systems to create custom-designed mission leadership formation programs. Please contact us if you would like to discuss creating programs designed to meet the specific needs of your health system.

Our faculty members also available for consulting services, day retreats, and workshops for health care systems at any location.

Why Mission Leaders?

Among the most urgent 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 created the Ashley-O’Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership. Our singular purpose is to develop and deliver theologicaland spiritual formation programs, materials, and experiences for leaders who steward the healing ministry of the Church. The Center is named in honor of two prominent Dominicans, Benedict Ashley, O.P. and Kevin O’Rourke, O.P., who,
separately and together, made significant contributions to Catholic health care.

Benedict M. Ashley, O.P. (1915-2013) was a theologian and philosopher whose major influence on 20th-century Catholic theology and ethics in America has been evident in his writing, teaching, and consulting. He 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 the St. Louis University’s Health Sciences Center. In the post-Vatican II period he was a consultant in moral theology for the Committees on Doctrine and Pastoral Practice of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Health Care Ethics: A Theological Analysis, which he co-authored with Kevin O’Rourke, is now in its fifth edition and 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 1979-1999. 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 was a former president of Aquinas Institute of Theology. With Benedict Ashley, he co-authored the foundational text Health Care Ethics: A Theological Analysis. Among his most significant contributions to Catholic health care ethics is his work on appropriate care at the end of life. He was Professor of bioethics, Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago from 2000 until his death in 2012.


General Inquiries:

Office of Admissions: or 314.256.8801

Tom Bushlack, Ph.D.

Maureen McGuire Chair in Mission
Colleen Mallon, O.P.