Legacy formation programs helped to grow, inspire incoming sponsors

May 1, 2015


March marked the end of an era, as the second of two impactful sponsor formation programs wrapped up its final session. Both of the now-discontinued programs — the Collaborative Formation Program for Public Juridic Persons and the Collaborative Sponsor Formation Program — will be replaced later this year with a new CHA offering called the Sponsor Formation Program for Catholic Health Care.

Fr. Fred Kammer, SJ, an attorney and a member of the Southern Province of the Jesuits, talks with Sr. Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP, then-vice president of mission integration for PeaceHealth of Vancouver, Wash., at a 2009 session of the Collaborative Sponsor Formation Program. Fr. Kammer was among the presenters at the program. Sr. Pruitt has since retired.

The two original programs were "a gift for the formation of sponsors," said Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, CHA senior director of sponsor services and a member of the steering committee that created the new offering.

The Collaborative Formation Program for Public Juridic Persons originated a decade ago, after a group from the Catholic health ministry, whose ministries were transitioning from sponsorship by congregations to new models that included laity, decided to collaborate on a formation offering that would ground new and potential sponsors in the tradition of Catholic health care and familiarize them with their calling and responsibilities. In large part, the intent was to prepare laity for new roles in sponsorship. Formation is required by the Vatican for the approval of the statutes of every public juridic person.

Sr. Catherine DeClercq, OP, executive vice president, governance and sponsorship, for Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, helped establish and develop the Collaborative Formation Program. She explained that the offering was significant because it engaged "the laity and sisters in a very focused way on their personal spiritual development and their canonical responsibilities in becoming the sponsor of a Catholic health ministry."

She said that program "was blessed with leadership that was truly collaborative, and I believe it brought our systems closer together. We are all striving to strengthen and sustain the Catholic health ministry into the future …"

The Collaborative Sponsor Formation Program began in 2008, and it replicated much of the public juridic person formation approach, but was for organizations that had not yet pursued — or had not yet been granted — new juridic person status (some of the organizations applied for and/or achieved this status and continued to partner on the formation program). It was for both vowed religious and laity in sponsorship roles, and for those likely to be tapped for such roles or to interact with them closely.

Sr. DeClercq

Sr. Teresa Maltby, RSM, chaired the group that developed the Collaborative Sponsor Formation Program. She said the program had a major impact, especially on the participating organizations, in part because it was "not focused on structure but more on the essence of sponsorship and the spirituality desired in a sponsor." Additionally, she said, the program "developed a pool of persons who could be called to sponsorship ministry with some understanding and contribute to the ministry through their leadership."

Sr. Mary Noel Brown, CSA, is executive leader of sponsorship for the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Sponsorship Ministry of Fond du Lac, Wis., and she served on the steering committee for the Collaborative Sponsor Formation Program. She said, "One blessing of this program was to experience the transformation in participants as they grew in realizing that, by virtue of their baptism, they are called to ministry within the church and to the ministry of sponsorship. Several expressed sacred awe of how they are entrusted and accountable for the integration of mission and faithfulness to Catholic identity of a health care ministry."

Sr. Maltby

She said, "Many came asking, 'Why me?' and grew in realizing at a deep heart level that they were called and are gifted for sponsorship."

After the two legacy programs had been running for several years, Catholic health ministry leaders in sponsor roles began talking about the need to move to a more centralized model of sponsor formation for the ministry. Sr. DeClercq explained, "I believe both programs listened to the signs of the times and realized that there were many more PJPs interested in being a part of our program and that CHA was receiving requests for sponsorship formation, that it was a realistic evolution in meeting a demand" for a national program.

Sr. Maltby added, "The world of sponsorship is changing in itself and as needs change, the ability to respond must evolve."

Since late 2011, a steering committee made up of representatives of the legacy programs, as well as other ministry sponsor leaders, has been determining how best to develop the new program. Sr. DeClercq noted the program needed a home, "and CHA was the logical place for it."

Sr. Brown

Members of the steering committee are using the two original programs as a foundation for the new offering, which will begin later this year. Srs. DeClercq, Brown and Maltby noted their appreciation for the steering committee and Sr. Haddad, for their efforts to ensure continuity between the legacy programs and the forthcoming offering.

Sr. Brown said, "It has been an experience of letting go, embracing the best of what has been and welcoming the new as we anticipate a new national sponsor formation program under the auspices of CHA."

Sr. Maltby added, "My hope for the new program is that it will be responsive to the changing needs of sponsors … I hope it will support and form persons who will be the voice of the ministry …"

Sr. Brown said of the original two programs, their "legacy lives in all those who participated … as they embrace their call to sponsorship within the Catholic health ministry." She said of program graduates, "Wherever they are and in whatever they do, they are using their gifts to fulfill the mission of the church and, thus, they continue to build up the community of the body of Christ."

Legacy sponsor formation programs enjoyed broad participation

Taking part in the Collaborative Formation Program for Public Juridic Persons were:

  • Bon Secours Ministries, Marriottsville, Md.
  • Catholic Health Care Federation, Englewood, Colo.
  • Catholic Health Ministries, Livonia, Mich.
  • Covenant Health, Tewksbury, Mass.
  • Hope Ministries, Newtown Square, Pa. (suppressed with the consolidation of Trinity Health of Livonia and Catholic Health East of Newtown Square)
  • Providence Ministries, Renton, Wash.
  • St. Joseph Health Ministry, Irvine, Calif.
Participating in the Collaborative Sponsor Formation Program were:
  • Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, N.D.
  • Ascension Sponsor, St. Louis
  • Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes, Fond du Lac, Wis.
  • Leaven Ministries, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Mercy Health Ministry, Chesterfield, Mo.
  • Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Partners in Catholic Health Ministries, Cincinnati
  • PeaceHealth, Vancouver, Wash.
  • Provena Health, Mokena, Ill., which merged with Chicago's Resurrection Health Care to become Presence Health, Chicago
  • Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston
  • Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio
  • Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, Wheaton, Ill.


Copyright © 2015 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2015 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

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