Sr. Carol Keehan, retiring from Catholic Health Association next year, is irreplaceable
Last week, Daughter of Charity Sr. Carol Keehan announced her retirement as president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association or CHA, a post she has held since 2005. CHA will conduct a national search for a successor: There can be no real replacing Sister Carol.
I remember well the first time I met Sister Carol. It was the late 1990s and I had an assignment from the New York Times Magazine to do a short commentary about someone who lived in surprising circumstances. I talked this over with my friend, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, who said, "You must write about Sister Carol. She is the only CEO I know who lives in a one room cell like all the other sisters in her convent." He arranged a meeting at her office at the hospital. She was friendly, a little wary of someone from the press, although the Albacete seal of approval quickly overcame that. I remember her having several large volumes on her desk and her pointing to them and saying, "I got into this work because I want to help the poor. I found out that to really help them in this day and age I had to learn all about Medicaid regulations."
Later, I went to her convent in Bladensburg, near St. Elizabeth Seton High School. She lived, as Albacete had said, in one room, a bed and a desk. The closet had perhaps half a dozen identical outfits. We walked around the convent and she explained that whenever she could, she enjoyed cooking for the other sisters, a pastime she continues to this day.