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Sister Margaret Myatt CSJ awarded Doctor of Sacred Letters

Sister Margaret Myatt, General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph, pictured at right, became a Doctor of Sacred Letters on Nov. 5, 2005 for her service and leadership in health care and for her leadership of her congregation. She received this honorary degree from the University of St. Michael’s College at the Convocation for the Faculty of Theology at St. Basil’s Church.

Dr. Anne Anderson CSJ, Dean, Faculty of Theology presented the citation. In her talk, Dr. Anderson reviewed Sr. Margaret’s life. A graduate of the University of St. Michael’s College, Sr. Margaret subsequently completed a Diploma program in Health Administration from the School of Hygiene in the University of Toronto, where, prophetically, she received the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson award as the student “having the potential to make a significant and lasting contribution to Health Care in Canada.”

Dr. Anderson highlighted two of the most difficult leadership roles Sr. Margaret has tackled. The first was in 1980 when Sister Margaret successfully undertook “the delicate task of merging St. Joseph’s Hospital and Our Lady of Mercy Hospital into St. Joseph’s Health Centre” in Toronto. The second was in 1990 when Sr. Margaret went on to assume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Home in Guelph, Ontario. Through communication and dialogue, she brought about reconciliation to a “fractured and fractious” community, and redevelopment of a Catholic Healthcare Facility also called St. Joseph’s Health Centre.

Dr. Anderson referred to the many Boards and committees Sr. Margaret has served on and chaired during her 35 years in Health Administration: the Metro Toronto District Health Council, the Catholic Health Association of Ontario, the Catholic Health Association of Canada and the Catholic Health Corporation of Ontario.

In 1998, continued Dr. Anderson, Sr. Margaret made plans to retire, plans she then generously set aside when she accepted a new opportunity: General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. Under her leadership, and well aware of changing times, the Sisters of St. Joseph undertook a number of new ministries “which would take them back to ‘Muddy York’ to the heart of the city, where the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada first began their ministry in 1851.”

Next, Dr. Anderson referred to ministries Sr. Margaret has founded and fostered. She established Fontbonne Ministries on a firm financial basis. These ministries include Mustard Seed that offers many programs for participants to learn new skills and independence. Fontbonne Place provides women in need between 40 - 60 years of age with a stable living environment.

Sr. Margaret drew together 44 Congregations of Women Religious and, with others, created a corporation called WRP Neighbourhood Housing. The Women Religious have raised over two million dollars with which they hope to build 68 houses for home ownership by working families with children.

Sr. Margaret is an integral part of the Joint Apostolic Ministry — a collaborative program of the religious communities of men and women in the Archdiocese of Toronto. The focus of this group is to assist refugee families with integration into their new milieu.

Sr. Margaret has also extended her leadership to the Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, serving as its President and guiding that body to refocus “its goals and objectives in the light of changing times.”

Dr. Anderson concluded her remarks with the following: “A recent article in “University Affairs” (p.26, November 2005) stated that ‘The conferring of Honorary degrees is a very public statement of a university’s values’ — in her life of Service to the Church, her Congregation and the ‘dear neighbour,’ Sr. Margaret exemplifies in every way the deeply cherished values that give life and meaning to the ministry of graduate education, here at the University of St. Michael’s College.”

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