Faith helps diaconate candidate get through Sick Kids ordeal

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  • October 16, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - He’s been “beat up in the media” about a $2.7-million severance payout, but former Sick Kids Foundation president and deacon-in-training Michael O’Mahoney says he’s been given a bad rap and is turning to his Catholic faith to help him get through this “complete misunderstanding.”

O’Mahoney told The Catholic Register from Portland, Ore., that he has put “a lot of faith and trust in God that even when that’s happening, it’s going to turn out OK.”

It’s been a “tough” couple of weeks for him, especially after hearing “a lot of untruths” being reported about his severance payment from Sick Kids, he said, adding that he has asked the hospital to clarify the amount quoted by the media.

O’Mahoney, 51, resigned from Sick Kids earlier this year after five years as head of the fundraising arm of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Media reports in early October said he was given a $2.7-million severance package.

He said he was unable to confirm the actual amount he received nor say why he left Sick Kids because he “promised” Sick Kids that he wouldn’t talk about the terms of his resignation. But he said the figure reported by media outlets was “not an accurate representation.”

“Financially, I have to keep working. That’s a significant hint. I can’t retire or anything like that,” said O’Mahoney, who now runs the Toronto-based MWO Philanthropic Advisors.

Life after Sick Kids has led to significant changes in his life, he said, including more time for prayer. He also has more time with his family and for his preparation to become a deacon.

O’Mahoney is in his fourth year of studies at St. Augustine’s Seminary and will be ordained a deacon for the Toronto archdiocese in May. He felt called to be a deacon to be of service to others. He started course work for the diaconate three years ago, studying over the weekends while working full-time at Sick Kids.

As part of his studies, O’Mahoney did pastoral training as a chaplain at Sick Kids while he was the foundation president.

What he’s found rewarding about this volunteer work was being “present” with the parents and their children.

“God works through people. Someone comes in and is God’s presence in front of you. That’s what deacons do,” O’Mahoney said, adding that others also have a calling to be God’s presence in the world.

O’Mahoney hopes to continue hospital ministry in Toronto but is “disappointed” he is unable to continue at Sick Kids after the hospital denied his request to continue volunteering there.

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