October 1, 2012

As board chair for Covenant Health, I was dismayed by the condemnatory tone and absence of facts and evidence in the recent editorial "Catholic institutions must provide a Gospel witness" (Sept. 3).

Covenant Health's board is committed to a mission rooted in a Gospel call. The bishops of Alberta are engaged in our efforts, monitoring our organization's mission fidelity as Catholic sponsors and providing pastoral encouragement.

Our work to strengthen and build Catholic health care in Alberta and to serve those most vulnerable in society honours the legacy of our nine founding congregations of religious sisters - a sacred trust we undertake with a profound sense of responsibility and gratitude.

We continue to work with the sisters today, benefiting from their blessing, wisdom and support.

To speculate that the religious women who founded Catholic health care would be "turning in their graves" in reaction to decisions made by our board is disrespectful to the sisters who minister with us today and the sisters through history who invested in excellent leadership to advance their mission.

Further, the mere suggestion of materialism and "moral dysfunction" here is unfounded and undermines the dedicated efforts of our employees, physicians and administration to live our mission.

As Canada's largest Catholic health care organization, we are committed to exemplifying compassionate care led by Catholic values in today's integrated public health system. We take on this complex and challenging work with discernment and courage.

This year Covenant Health's Mission Discernment Tool was recognized as a leading practice by Accreditation Canada for its exemplary contribution to Canadian health care.

Finally, since the editorial's comment on recent media coverage of our executive compensation did nothing to clarify the facts, I encourage readers to visit our response on the Covenant Health website (www.covenanthealth.ca).

W. John Brennan
Chair, Board of Directors
Covenant Health