New Student Testimonial Video: Why You Should Choose AOR for Mission Leadership Advancement

Please help us to spread the word by sharing this on your social media outlets or with someone you know who might be interested in our AOR programs for advancing the skills of Catholic health care mission leadership.

Tracie Loftis EMAHCM Testimonial from Tom Bushlack on Vimeo.


Many thanks to Tracie Loftis for sharing her reflections on her experience at AOR and in the Executive MA in Health Care Mission!


Mount Saint Joseph Seeks Director of Pastoral Care and Mission

Clark Phinney, Director of Human Resources for a 138 bed skilled and long term care ministry in Central Maine founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon and currently sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of West Hartford, sent the following announcement:

We have a critical opening in our leadership team for a Director of Pastoral Care and Mission that I am hoping you can assist me with by way of posting on any job opening boards that you may have online and on campus as well as via contacts you may have with students or graduates looking for employment.

Additionally if you are aware of any other sources that I should connect with to help spread the word please do not hesitate to let me know.    Thank you again for your time and assistance in helping us fill this vital member of our team.,-ME/169811.html

Mount Saint Joseph Residence and Rehabilitation in Waterville is seeking a Director of Pastoral Care and Mission. Our 138 bed facility offers assisted living, licensed skilled post acute nursing and rehabilitation, long-term care, memory care and behavioral health in a holistic environment.

Mount Saint Joseph is a holistic care community founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyons and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of West Hartford provides a competitive compensation and benefit package that complements this opportunity for personal growth and professional advancement. Mount Saint Joseph is a Trinity Senior Community.

The person in this position is responsible for the day-to-day leadership and oversight of the Pastoral Care Department. The Director develops and manages services designed to meet the religious and/or spiritual needs of residents and their families as well as facility team members. Supervises a team of chaplains both staff and volunteer in meeting the purpose and goals of the department. The Director of Pastoral Care and Mission serves as a member of the OPS management team and as an internal consultant to the ethics committee. This position supports the mission and core values of Mount Saint Joseph by serving as an ambassador and collaborates with the senior leadership team in determining priorities for spiritual grounding and Catholic healthcare ethics. Additional responsibilities include ensuring that the mission and values of Mount Saint Joseph are present in all aspects of daily work. Position involves a high level of collaborating with the direct care workers and all ancillary departments. Must be able to build consensus and foster collaboration among workgroups. The Director plans and leads various religious services, events, studies and observances within the Mount Saint Joseph community on a regular basis. Ability to function within a faith based organization and ensure the spiritual needs for Catholic, Protestant and Jewish residents are actively cared for and fostered.

Minimum of 3 years of management experience in a chaplaincy or pastoral care setting. Clinical Pastoral care or chaplaincy certification in good standing. Minimum of 3-5 years of active ministry experience preferred. Prior experience in long term care a plus. Membership in the National Association of Catholic Chaplains strongly desired.

Mount Saint Joseph offers a full benefit package to colleagues including: Medical, Dental, Vision, supplemental insurances as well as a generous unified bank leave time policy. We are a 100% tobacco free campus.

Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent direct experience.

To Apply

Submit a current resume and cover letter to for immediate consideration.

Thank you!

Clark Phinney

Director of Human Resources

Mount Saint Joseph Residence & Rehabilitation

7 Highwood Street

Waterville, ME  03901

(207) 873-0705  ext 218

Congratulations to Tracey Biles, (MAHCM, 2016)!

Tracey Biles, who just graduated from the MA in Health Care Mission in December 2016, wrote the following note:

“Just wanted to share with you that I have accepted a VP of Mission position with Saint Thomas Health System (part of Ascension) in Tennessee.  I’ll be joining the Senior Leadership Team of Saint Thomas Rutherford in Murfreesboro, TN which includes the main campus as well as four smaller hospitals in neighboring communities.  I’ve been overwhelmed with the hospitality and warm welcome extended to me by the team in Murfreesboro so I’m really excited about this transition.  I’ll be working some in Ada over the next 30+ days but will also be using several PTO days to put my house on the market and find a new home in a new state.  My first day in Murfreesboro will be March 6th.

Thank you for being an important part of my 10 years at Mercy.  I look forward to when our paths will cross again.  If you’re ever in Tennessee, please come visit me in the ‘Boro’!”

Tracey now joins two other current students, Greg Pope and Andrew Ochs, at Ascension’s St. Thomas Health System.

Congratulations to Tracey from all of us at the Ashley-O’Rourke Center and the Aquinas Institute!  We continue to be proud of the accomplishments and successes of our graduates.

Kimberly Zoberi, MD, EMAHCM Student, Publishes Article on Concierge Medicine and Catholic Social Teaching


Congratulations to Dr. Kimberly Zoberi, MD, a current student in our Executive MA in Health Care Mission, on her recent publication in the January-February issue of Health Progress!

A practicing physician herself and associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Kimberly was interested in how the principles of Catholic Social Teaching might apply to alternative forms of patient care delivery that many doctors are exploring today.  She initially wrote and submitted the paper for our course last summer (2016), “Catholic Social Teaching: Foundations and Applications for the Healing Ministry.”

Kimberly’s work exemplifies how the Ashley-O’Rourke Center brings together the practice of medicine, mission integration in health care, the study of theology, spirituality, and leadership formation, to have a real impact in the lives of medical practitioners, mission leaders, executives, and -most importantly – the quality of care patients receive.

Follow the link below to read the full article:

November E-Newsletter

AOR Monthly Newsletter
Dear Aquinas,

We hope you have had a restful Thanksgiving, and a chance to pause to practice some conscious gratitude, and we wish you a happy beginning of Advent!  As you wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ, please enjoy our November E-Newsletter.

Using Mission Assessments to Enhance Formation Programs

Most Catholic Healthcare systems conduct periodic assessments of how well they are living their mission. These assessments may emphasize adherence to the systems’ values as indicated by a set of organizational metrics. They may also include an analysis of associate feedback compared to the aspirations put forward in the ministry’s mission statement. And, they may be conducted in-house or with the collaboration of an external agency. These assessments can provide a vital source of diagnostic information for Catholic Healthcare leadership teams and especially Mission leaders, regarding how to refine their formation programs.

One Catholic Healthcare system determined from its mission assessments that many of its patients did not experience the care they received as holistic. This caused the system to first define what “holistic care” means from a patients perspective and then to create an extensive training and formation program for care-givers addressing how to better integrate the physical, emotional, spiritual and social elements of care. Patient satisfaction scores were closely tracked to determine the impact of this formation program. The system was also able to correlate the level of their care-givers engagement in the mission of the organization with the patients’ perception of a caring attitude on the part of the care-givers.
A mission assessment within another system resulted in a hospital receiving feedback that its physicians were not in strong alignment with the ministry goals of the hospital. The hospital’s mission leader took this feedback onboard and collaborated with the Ashley-O’Rourke team to design a formational experience for its physicians. The formation included reflections on the nature of the healing ministry and the sense of purpose and commitment that the physicians experienced. Feedback from the participants was favorable and the ministry will be essential to the next cycle of assessment to determine if the experience is having a lasting organizational impact.
Degree and certificate programs facilitated by the Ashley-O’Rourke Center of the Aquinas Institute of Theology are designed to strengthen Healthcare Ministry leaders’ ability not only to assess how well their organizations are achieving their mission, but also to help form other leaders to that end. Theology of the healing ministry is presented in the context of organizational implementation as well as personal application, and facilitates the process of alignment between organizational values, employees’ behaviors, and patient experiences.
                                                                                                                                 Bill Brinkmann

Readers’ Corner: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

In his forward to Paul Kalanithi’s When Breathe Becomes Air, the author of Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese asserts that “I got to know Paul only after his death…I came to know him most intimately when he’d ceased to be.” With only one brief pre-death encounter (one initiated by Paul who was seeking advice about editors and publishing), Verghese invites the reader to come to know Paul Kalanithi as he has…through Kalanithi’s beautiful memoir recounting a doctor’s journey into mortality.   With tenderness and honesty Paul Kalanithi reveals himself to the reader as a gifted intellectual and ambitious medical researcher who grows to become a compassionate neurosurgeon; understanding that right relationship lies at the heart of any truly healing relationship. These insights are only deepened when the chairs are turned and the young neurosurgeon becomes an oncology patient. This memoir is a sensitive and brave account of a singular journey, one man’s attempt to speak about the meaning of life in the face of death; a poignant reminder that the art o f making meaning of “breathe becoming air” remains our shared journey.

Colleen Mary Mallon OP, Ph.D.

Building the Mission Leader Network!

We continue to be amazed and grateful for all the wonderful people with whom we work in Catholic health care, aka “YOU”.  And we are always grateful for your help in letting others know about our programs.  Please feel free to check out our newly updated websites:  

Did you know that you can also follow AOR on our new Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn ?
Please follow or like us on any of our social media platforms, so that you can stay up to date with all the exciting changes at AOR and in Catholic health care, and invite your friends and colleagues to do the same!

Sr. Colleen Mallon, O.P., Ph.D.
Tom Bushlack, Ph.D.
Ashley O’Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership

The Healing Power of Gratitude: October Newsletter

Welcome to our October AOR E-Newsletter!  As we head into November, Thanksgiving, and the Holiday season, we want to say thank you to all of you and to recognize the many blessings for which we are grateful in Catholic health care and the Aquinas Institute.  We hope you enjoy a few extra moments to experience the healing power of gratitude during this busy time of year.
– Sr. Colleen & Tom

The Healing Power of Gratitude


As we move into the late fall and the celebration of the feasts of All Saints and All Souls (and, of course, Halloween), I become especially aware that we are moving into the extended Holiday season of Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the New Year.  It is a season of heightened emotions, excitement, expectation, and gratitude.  Yet we also know from our own experiences that these heightened emotions may sometimes be accompanied by additional stress from excessive busyness, and that for many this is a particularly difficult season of the year.  The days become shorter, and memories surface that bring a mix of both joy and sadness.  For some, this sadness can move into serious depression.  Physically, we become more susceptible to fatigue and illness (there’s a reason we get our flu shots in the fall).  As mission leaders, we do well to remain tuned into our own emotional roller coasters during this season.  We also do well to remain mindful that our colleagues, our families and friends, and those who come into our hospitals and clinics for care are also bringing their own complex mix of memories and emotions, joys and sorrows.
In light of all of this, it may be worthwhile to pause to reflect upon the power of simple gratitude.  Some of us may recall learning the five basic forms of prayer in our early catechism classes.  Not surprisingly, prayers of gratitude or thanksgiving to God are one form, along with prayers of adoration, petition, intercession, and praise.  Indeed, gratitude may be the most fundamental human response – along with awe – to the realization that God’s graciousness is the very source of everything that is.  In one of the more beautiful quotes about gratitude in Scripture, Paul writes “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at University of CA, Davis, and one of the leading researchers on gratitude, often states that “gratitude has the power to heal, to energize, and to change lives.”  He has found that people who write down 3-5 things for which they are grateful on a daily basis experience an increasing in well-being and a decrease in stress.  They are more alert, active, and awake, they get more and better sleep, they are more resilient both to everyday and traumatic stress, they are more intimately connected with others, they are less likely to get sick, and are more likely to be generous to others.

One simple exercise that I have tried is to end each day by listing at least 3 things for which I am grateful to God during that day (I find it works best to write them down).  When I have remembered to do this, I have found that I experience a greater sense of abundance and openness to the possibilities of the working of the Holy Spirit.  In fact, sometimes I end up listing some of the negative or difficult experiences from my day as gratitudes, as I realize they were small opportunities for me to grow or to be challenged, or to practice spiritual detachment from the outcomes of my efforts and desires.
So as we move into the season of Holiday pressures and joys, you might find this exercise of writing down your gratitudes quite helpful.  You also might look for small “gratitude moments” to include in your mission leadership ministry.  Perhaps beginning a meeting with a space to share gratitudes or to honor them in shared silent space.  Perhaps expressing your gratitude to others for who they are, and the work they do to support the healing ministry.  Perhaps creating a public space for others to write down and share their gratitudes, on a bulletin board or online.

We are not very likely going to be able to slow down the pace of our daily schedules, to eliminate all the extra office parties and family gatherings, or to magically avoid the emotional ups and downs of the season.  But if we intentionally cultivate some additional gratitude during this season – not just at Thanksgiving – we may be surprised at how much awe, appreciation, and gratitude can support and enhance our work in the healing ministry of Jesus.


Congratulations to George Avila (MAHCM, 2015)

We recently learned that George Avila, who graduated from our M.A. in Health Care Mission in 2015 was named Vice President of International Mission Integration for CHRISTUS Health in Irving, TX.  George will be supporting and developing the work of mission leaders, especially in Latin America.  We are proud of our graduates and grateful for all the work that our current and future graduates do to support Catholic health care and the healing ministry of Jesus!

Know Someone with a “Heart for Mission”?

As Catholic health care continues to evolve the role of the mission leader is becoming increasingly important.  Do you know someone in your system who seems to have a real heart for the mission, or seems particularly passionate about or interested in health care as a ministry of the church?  Many of our graduates were invited into this ministry by others.  If you see this leadership potential in someone within your organization, you might want to suggest the possibility of focusing on mission work.  Feel free to send them to our website, or the Executive M.A. in Health Care Mission or Certificate for Mission Leadership sites for more information.  And thank you for being a part of this network of healing ministers!

Sr. Colleen Mallon, O.P., Ph.D.
Tom Bushlack, Ph.D.
Ashley O’Rourke Center for Health Ministry Leadership

Speak the Truth, But Not to Punish

As a PR specialist I have spent decades dealing with volatile front page issues, rancorous disputes and tricky situations — everything from food poisonings and market crashes, to animal cruelty charges, bodies disappearing from funeral homes, exploding sawmills, bankruptcies and sex scandals. But the escalating state of dysfunctional and toxic dialogue we see today is beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed. We are in a communication crisis. Our warlike approach to public debate is polluting the public square with a dark haze of unyielding one-sidedness. Regardless of the issue, this is the threshold problem because we have shut down the space where high quality public debate takes place, where facts matter, where passionate opposition and science shape constructive, mind changing conversations. Attacking people’s motives and character, whipping up fear and hatred, distracts the public from real issues and undermines genuine opposition and debate. Sadly it is part of a nasty wave of nationalism and bigotry washing across North America and Europe. While doing research for my new book, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot, I interviewed dozens of political pundits, philosophers, moral psychologists, media gurus and social scientists. They all agree toxic dialogue and polluted public discourse is an enormous obstacle to change. While adversarial discourse has its place in a courtroom or an entertaining television debate, these ugly and antagonistic techniques also lead to disabling polarization and tribalism — the two main sources of pollution in the public square. So what is healthy dialogue?  (Read more from James Hoggan, A Matter of Spirit, Fall 2016)

Congratulations to Colleen Walters (MAHCM, 2008)

colleen-walters-headshot-2016Colleen Walters Named Vice President & Chief Mission Integration Officer for MHN

AOR is pleased to announce Colleen M. Walters, MAHCM, has been named Vice President and Chief Mission Integration Officer for the Mercy Health Network (MHN), effective Oct. 24, 2016.  Colleen has served as the Vice President Regional Mission Integration for the Trinity Health Iowa Region since 2013.  Prior to that assignment she held the role of Chief Operating Officer at Medical Professional Resources in Springfield, Ohio.  She brings to MHN 30 years of health care experience ranging from Dietary Aide to Director of Physician Relations / Recruitment.

Within Trinity Health, Colleen was selected by Mission Senior Leadership as a member of the Trinity Health task force for the development of standards for Mission Integration leaders. She is a member of Trinity Health’s Ethics Leaders Group.

Colleen has a Masters of Arts in Healthcare Mission from Aquinas Institute of Theology in Saint Louis. She co-chaired an Iowa Catholic Conference subcommittee on end of life care in healthcare and co-authored with Dr. Janine Idziak recommendations to the Iowa Catholic Bishops on compassionate care initiative.

She is the mother of two adult daughters, Emily (27) who works for NASA in Huntsville, Alabama and Vanessa (21) who is finishing her undergrad degree in Medicinal Chemistry in Ohio.  She has been married to her husband Steve for 31 years.   She enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Please join us in congratulating Colleen on her continued success in health ministry leadership!