Theologian presents themes from CHA study of Catholic identity

March 1, 2013

Theologian M. Therese Lysaught is developing a theological white paper to support an ongoing three-year study regarding CHA membership criteria in light of changes in several ministry organizations to for-profit or non-Catholic structures. Lysaught, associate professor of theology at Marquette University, is currently serving as a visiting scholar at CHA. She presented themes from her research at two CHA events in January: the System Mission Leadership Forum and the Sponsorship Institute.

During her presentations, she named three "core elements" that she said are foundational to the Catholic identity of Catholic health ministry: the person and work of Jesus, Catholic social principles, and the stories of the founders and foundresses of ministry organizations. These elements were consistently identified by the many ministry leaders interviewed as part of the membership study.

She also said there are additional elements that are significant in describing the identity of Catholic health care, such as evangelization, sacramentality, the characteristics of ministry, and communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

"Ultimately," she said, "the theological foundation of all reality, of Christianity, of the Catholic tradition, and by extrapolation, the work of Catholic health care, is charity understood as God's essence and God's essential and actual way of being and interacting with the world."

Audiences at both CHA events provided feedback following Lysaught's presentations. She will continue researching and gathering input from member audiences as she writes the white paper, which she will complete prior to the Catholic Health Assembly in June. Lysaught will present on the final paper during an Innovation Forum session at the assembly.

A special Membership Study Committee, appointed by CHA's Board of Trustees, is leading the three-year process to determine whether changes should be made to the association's bylaws to permit organizations that are for-profit or not officially Catholic to remain CHA members. Any recommendations will be brought to the CHA board, and, if accepted, to the membership for approval at the 2015 Catholic Health Assembly.

Members are encouraged to submit questions and comments regarding the membership study to: [email protected].


Copyright © 2013 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2013 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.