Catholic health care has a legacy of caring for everyone in need of care, and ministry sponsors are called to help preserve that legacy for the future. That was a sentiment shared by Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago in an address at the culminating session of CHA's Sponsor Formation Program for Catholic Health Care.
The March 24-26 gathering at the Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca, Ill., capped off the 18 month program for the 50 participants, most of whom are sponsors or prospective sponsors of Catholic health ministries. The group was the first cohort to complete the formation program.
In his address, Cardinal Cupich said just as Jesus empowered his disciples to heal and cure, so too are today's sponsors empowered to carry on Jesus' healing ministry. "There is something quite liberating in coming into a position and knowing that you are empowered to take up the task.
Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, CHA president and chief executive officer, fields a question during the final session of CHA’s Sponsor Formation Program for Catholic Health Care in March.
"It is a power that drives you not only in a way that brings about curing, but also one that brings about caring," he said.
Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, CHA president and chief executive officer, also spoke at the final session of the program to prepare people for sponsorship roles in Catholic health care.
CHA launched the sponsor formation program in 2015 to give Catholic health ministry sponsors, potential sponsors and other leaders a deeper understanding of the call to serve in the church, the church's social tradition, its mission, the special role of sponsors, the directives that guide the church's health care ministry and the contemporary context for sponsorship in the U.S.
Each of the four in-person weekend sessions included prayer and ritual, speaker presentations, group discussion, personal reflection and opportunities for the participants to integrate the experience into their lives.
Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, is CHA vice president of mission services. She manages the sponsor formation program. She says participants told her this formation experience touched them deeply and prepared them well for their sponsor role.
Terry A. Judd is a member of Sisters of Mary of the Presentation Health Ministry, the public juridic person of SMP Health System of Fargo, N.D. He says the sponsor formation course was an invaluable experience. "As a layperson, I now have a confidence level that I did not have before. I felt the shoes that had to be filled were just too big.
"This was one of the best and most profound experiences that I have had in my life," he says.
Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, CHA vice president of mission services, far left, speaks at the gathering.
Sr. Haddad says the type of structured formative experience that the course provides is essential, particularly for laity. "Being a sponsor is not like serving on a governing board — sponsors are carrying a responsibility for ensuring the continuation of this ministry of the church. Laity normally don't have experience in these roles, and there's really no other formation process like this one for laity to prepare to serve as sponsors."
CHA will welcome a full cohort of participants to its second session, which begins in October.
Copyright © 2017 by the Catholic Health Association
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