Sr. Peggy Ann Martin, OP
Photo credit: Chris Ryan/© CHA
Sr. Peggy Ann Martin, OP, navigates intersection of health care, canon law
By BETSY TAYLOR
Sr. Peggy Ann Martin, a Dominican Sister of Peace who was involved with the creation of Catholic Health Initiatives and who has held a senior leadership position there since 2000, is the 2015 recipient of CHA's Sister Concilia Moran Award for "demonstrated creativity and breakthrough thinking."
Sr. Martin's longtime colleagues and friends describe her as an expert in canon law, who draws from her religious faith and personal warmth to advance Catholic health care at CHI, as well as nationally and internationally.
Sr. Martin, now 68, was a member of the steering committee in 1996 that consolidated the Omaha, Neb.-based Catholic Health Corp. and three other health care systems representing a dozen congregations of women religious into CHI, the Englewood, Colo.-based health care system that today spans 19 states.
Patricia Cahill, the retired president and chief executive of CHI and a past recipient of the award herself, said Sr. Martin was among those who provided counsel on how those Catholic systems could join together under Catholic Health Care Federation, the public juridic person of Catholic Health Corp. A public juridic person is an entity that operates within canon law in a manner similar to that of a corporation within civil law. It allows religious and laity to come together to carry out the role and responsibility of sponsorship.
After her work on the steering committee, Sr. Martin went on to earn her licentiate in canon law at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada in 2000, before being hired that same year at CHI as senior vice president for sponsorship and governance. Cahill said Sr. Martin's counsel as a canon lawyer was especially helpful in guiding CHI leaders' understanding of the function of a public juridic person and helping them navigate complex church property issues when health systems merge. Sr. Martin said getting her canon law degree and then returning to CHI "opened for me a lot of vistas." She explained, "I see my employment at CHI as a great blessing in my life. Who would ever think that they could start something and then work in it, in the midst of it, and see and experience all the dedicated and wonderful people who are enhancing this mission and ministry? It's a phenomenal blessing."
Colleen Scanlon, CHI's senior vice president and chief advocacy officer, said Sr. Martin's "core commitment to the healing ministry of Christ" is a thread that runs through her work and involvements. Scanlon spoke of how Sr. Martin continues to support the evolution of Catholic health care, providing leadership over the years. Scanlon said she has served on several CHI committees with Sr. Martin, and said Sr. Martin always reminds leaders of "why we do what we do" and creates "an opportunity for us to look at the deeper purpose of what we're doing."
Flanked by Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, and Alan Yordy, immediate past chair of the CHA Board of Trustees, Sr. Martin accepts her award at the Catholic Health
Assembly Awards Banquet.
Photo credit: Evelyn Hockstein/© CHA
Sr. Martin has been involved with CHI's Mission and Ministry Fund since it began. Since 1996, the fund has awarded more than $55 million in grants to innovative programs dedicated to creating healthier communities. Sr. Martin said the grants have "been to better health care, and to establish and build healthier communities."
Sr. Martin long has worked on programs for the formation of leaders in Catholic health care. She also has a reputation for her ability to explain canon law, both to leaders within her own system, as well as nationally and internationally. She was invited to Rome last year to speak about public juridic persons for a meeting convened by Pope Francis involving the treasurers of thousands of Catholic religious orders. The international symposium examined how the orders could use their financial assets to serve humanity.
The Sister Concilia Moran Award is named for the late Sr. Moran who was the first post-Vatican II superior of the Sisters of Mercy of the Union. It celebrates "a woman who, as a leader in religious life and in the health care ministry, was an agent of change, a shaper of dreams, and an enabler of persons," according to a CHA description of the award.
Sr. Martin was nominated for the Sister Concilia Moran Award by Sr. Gemma Doll, OP., councilor for the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Sr. Doll highlighted Sr. Martin's ability to navigate the "critically important intersection" of church, health care and law, where she said the converging concerns of each "must all be honored so that each may achieve its goals."
Sr. Martin's colleagues and friends describe her as a wise woman, who is also a lot of fun. Sr. Martin said she enjoys reading from a genre known as "light mysteries," such as the Goldy Bear Culinary Mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson. She's also a sports fan, who likes to knit, including dishcloths sold at a bazaar where the proceeds benefit charity. However, she said her sports fandom and knitting don't always mix.
"I like to knit during the Broncos games," she said, "but if the game gets really tense, I have to stop, because my knitting gets too tight."
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