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April 7, 2021

By Jessica Hargrave
Contributing Writer

A parish nurse training program is being offered to registered nurses and other health care workers of the North Country willing to volunteer their time to their parish community. Parish Nurses, often referred to as Faith Community Nurses, do not provide hands-on nursing but instead combine their nursing knowledge and faith.

Mercy Care for the Adirondacks in Lake Placid was established in 2007 with a mission of ensuring elderly community members live their life to its fullest. Envisioning a parish nursing program from the beginning, the Faith Community Nurse Foundations Course was up and running one year later headed by Sister Catherine Cummings, RSM. Thanks to a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, another round of trainings is set to start this April.

The course is designed for registered nurses, however other health care providers such as licensed practical nurses and certified nurse assistants are welcome to register. Registered nurses who complete the course are designated as a Parish Nurse while a non-RNs will be Parish Health Ministers.

“Parish nurses are needed to provide emotional and spiritual support to parishioners and their families in times of illness, crisis, death and bereavement. They do not take the place of the pastor and other parish ministers but complement what they offer,” said Sister Catherine.

Parish nurses also promote health and healing through health education, health counseling, assist in the understanding of treatment, connect them to community resources, as well as praying and sharing their faith.

Jennifer Lucia, LaFargeville, is a retired RN who says she still feels called to nursing even after 45 years. In the 1990s, she served as a parish nurse visiting the homebound and parishioners after hospitalization. Lucia said between working fulltime and some weekends, she was not able to be as involved then as she can now in St. Mary’s Church in Clayton and St. John’s Church in LaFargeville parishes which currently do not have a parish nurse program. Lucia hopes to learn more by taking a formal course so she can then start making connections to gather resources for her parish community.

“I hope to meet others and to network so I can connect and use my nursing experience and vocation as a ministry to those who need it. I believe there is a great need for wellness education and spiritual support,” said Lucia.

Lucia believes her openness to share prayer and deep faith in God along with her compassion for those struggling with illness will allow her to minister to fellow parishioners in a holistic manner whether at the parish or in the home.

The training course begins April 9 and will be held at St. Marguerite D’Youville Academy in Ogdensburg. The classroom being used is large enough to provide for social distancing. There are six training days in total through the month of April and attendance at all six is mandatory to complete the course. The cost is free but pre-registration is required. Registration is open to nurses of all faiths. If you believe God is calling you to this ministry at this time, contact Holly Huber to register at hhuber@adkmercy.org or call (518) 523-5583.


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