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Archives Faith Community Nurses commissioned

May 12, 2021

By Jessica Hargrave
Contributing Writer

OGDENSBURG – “You are using the gifts that the Lord has given you to be Christ’s hands because your heart beats with His love.”

Bishop Terry R. LaValley expressed the importance of Faith Community Nurses in parishes at a commissioning ceremony for four nurses on Saturday, May 1 at St. Marguerite D’Youville Academy in Ogdensburg. The ceremony marked the completion of a Faith Community Nurses Course offered during the month of April to registered nurses and other health care providers by Mercy Care for the Adirondacks. Several topics are covered during the course, including the history and philosophy of parish nursing, advocacy, care coordination, and transitional care, and health, healing and whole-person health which is the idea the parish nurse program is built upon.

“They use their scientific and health knowledge with their deep faith and it’s the spiritual healing that goes with the medical healing,” said Donna Beal, executive director at Mercy Care for the Adirondacks.

Once commissioned, faith community nurses, or parish nurses, promote health and healing to parishioners through health education and health counseling; assist in the understanding of treatment; connect others to community resources; as well as pray and share their faith.

Examples of Jesus healing those who are hurting can be found throughout Scripture, and examples were used as readings during the commissioning ceremony. “When Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said, ‘Woman, you are free of your infirmity.’ He laid his hand on her and immediately she stood up straight and began thanking God.”

The nurses then stood and voiced their commitment to their health ministry before program director, Sister Catherine Cummings, a Sister of Mercy, who commissioned them as Faith Community Nurses. One by one, each nurse lit a candle and was presented with a pin and certificate.

Judy Elsbury will be a Faith Community Nurse for Church of the Holy Family in Watertown. She is excited to bring her extensive health care experience to her community and join the two other community nurses at the parish.
“I think it’s an opportunity to pull together your clinical skillset and your faith because your faith never leaves you when you’re doing nursing,” said Elsbury.

Elsbury said she has several ideas for her parish, one would be to start rosary walks which combine movement and prayer. She would also like to explore different ways to assist parishioners with grieving.

“It helps to have people of faith who understand. Miscarriages, loss of a spouse, loss of a pet… people have different loses for different things,” she adds.

The three other nurses who took part in Saturday’s ceremony were Cathleen Bell of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Morristown, Mary Blackburn of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg, and Mary Kleinhans of The Catholic Community of Alexandria Bay. Two nurses will be commissioned upon completion of the course: Jennifer Lucia of The Catholic Community of Alexandria Bay and Linda Scagel of St. Raphael’s Parish in Heuvelton.

Bishop LaValley closed his remarks by offering his immense gratitude for the selflessness by the parish nurses to this health ministry.

“Thank you for your sacrifice of love,” he said. “Thank you for allowing others to see the Christ within you. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable so that none of the vulnerable among us feels forgotten or unnoticed.”

For more information on when the next Faith Community Nurse Course will be offered, contact Sister Catherine Cummings, RSM at ccummings@adkmercy.org.


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