Sisters of Charity health system adopts PJP sponsor model

November 1, 2011

The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth have transferred their health system sponsor role to a newly formed public juridic person. The PJP body, called Leaven Ministries, assumed sponsorship of Denver's Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System during a ceremony Sept. 25 at the sisters' motherhouse in Leavenworth, Kan.

The move allows laity to assume a greater role in the health system's sponsorship and for the congregation to ensure that its health ministry will continue under the sisters' spirit, mission and values, said Sr. Maureen Hall, SCL, director of the SCL community.

She said, "Increasingly, Catholic health care is becoming a partnership of vowed women religious with laywomen and men, and this is the path we have chosen to take with Leaven Ministries."

As with many other U.S. congregations, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth's numbers have declined. In 1986, for instance, there were 553 in the congregation; there are half as many today. "While we have younger sisters who are active in the health ministry, we do not have sufficient numbers going into health care administration to provide ongoing leadership to ensure continuity of the Catholic health ministry," said Sr. Hall.

She added that health care has become increasingly complex and requires a new level of expertise, along with a strong commitment to mission. "Just as several years ago, we extended governance opportunities to laypeople, we have now transitioned our sponsorship model to engage talented and dedicated laypeople in sustaining the ministry in a changing and challenging environment."

The sisters submitted their application to the Vatican in August 2008 to transfer sponsorship of the four-state, 11 hospital system to the new PJP. They received approval in October 2008, but decided to delay the transfer until this year when the health system and congregation were ready.

The four-member SCL Community Council that is the elected leadership of the congregation formerly fulfilled the sponsor function for the health system. Although those sponsors have relinquished their formal sponsorship role, they will remain involved with the PJP, through a Sponsors' Council: That council appoints the PJP members, ensures the application of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services within the health system and confirms any changes in philosophy and mission proposed by the PJP, among other responsibilities.

The PJP members can recommend changes to the health ministry's philosophy and mission; approve changes to the health system's articles of incorporation or bylaws; appoint health system board members; and approve of sales, transfers or other major changes in the system's assets.

Leaven Ministries members

  • Sr. Maureen Hall, SCL, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Community director
  • Maureen Mahoney, attorney
  • Sr. Constance Phelps, SCL, facilitator and consultant
  • James Roscoe, retired business owner
  • Sr. Charlotte White, SCL, sponsorship and mission facilitator for the health system


Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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