More than once in his life, Chad Raith considered going to medical school. So when the opportunity arose to combine his passion for theology with a job in health care, he was intrigued.
Raith joined Mercy Northwest Arkansas earlier this year as vice president of mission. His job includes leading mission-related courses for Mercy leaders, community outreach and pastoral services, among other duties.
“If I could summarize my role, it’s being part of ensuring Mercy stays true to its Christian Catholic heritage and the principles the Sisters of Mercy,” he said. “This allows a number of things I’ve done previously to come together. I’m looking forward to the challenge of learning a new industry and to grow as a person. I think health care connects naturally with the Christian faith.”
After earning a master’s in divinity from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala., Raith said he wrestled with two choices: becoming a pastor or professor. He chose the academic path, first earning a master’s in theology from Regent College in Vancouver, B.C., then a doctorate in systematic theology from Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida.
Raith is happy to be able to continue teaching. Most recently, Raith was an assistant professor of religion and philosophy and director of the Paradosis Center for Theology and Scripture at John Brown University in Siloam Springs. He also has taught at his alma maters and at Baylor University.
Raith works closely with Sister Anita DeSalvo, one of two Sisters of Mercy serving Mercy Northwest Arkansas. Raith notes the seriousness of his role in taking on duties once handled by one of the sisters themselves.
“As the number of sisters decreases, they look to us to carry on what they’ve been doing so well for generations,” Raith said. “They’re entrusting us to continue their ministry. To me, that’s heavy, and also something that’s a tremendous privilege.”
Raith said Mercy is a unique organization that takes a holistic view of supporting co-workers both at home and at work.
“I’m part of helping create a culture that allows people to flourish. We’re going to be better at health care because of it. What sets us apart is the kind of culture we have at Mercy,” he said.
Raith is editor of the recent The Gospel of John: Theological-Ecumenical Readings with Cascade Publishing and author of Ecumenism: A Guide for the Perplexed with Continuum Press, in addition to authoring or editing several other titles.
Raith and his wife, Ansley, live in Siloam Springs with their four children, Charles, 9, Paul, 6, Lizzie, 3, Zeb, 1.