‘Vitality brings health to our faith community…’
Parish nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as well as the promotion of wholistic health and prevention or minimization of illness within the context of a faith community. Over 40% of the parishes in the diocese have Parish Nurses, who provide education, advocacy and support for their parish and community. Though sometimes known for only doing blood pressure screenings, this ministry goes much deeper. Individual health counseling, assisting parishioners through life changing medical events and providing support through conversation, actions and prayerful presence also defines this ministry. In the past year parish nurses have touched the lives of over 6,300 people in South Jersey through health screenings, individual and community and outreach programs and events. They are present at parish functions, organizing blood drives, parish education events/trainings, worship site safety and encouragement. Parish nurses assist individuals and families in seeking treatment and accessing the healthcare resources necessary for them to remain vital members of their community. Each brings their special talents and skill sets to use in the service of others. Parish Nurses strive to be the healing presence of Christ made visible and accessible in their communities.
Under the banner of VITALity, Parish Nursing has seen a revitalization throughout the Diocese of Camden. This energy has provided for an increase in the number of parishes with established programs, and those under development along with a growing list of services and functions being carried out by these parish nurse volunteers.
This year VITALity sponsored the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course, offering it twice in 2016 with a total of 19 graduates from 13 parishes around the diocese.
Each faith community has their own individual character. Assessing the needs of each community and working to provide for the specific needs identified is the groundwork of the Parish Nurse ministry. Collaboration with other healthcare professionals and volunteers from the parish builds on the foundation of the ministry to address the whole community. To support this work, VITALity provided financial grants to active Parish Nurse Ministry Parishes which helped them provide various equipment, training and educational materials.
By: Mary Anne Serra, Director of Parish Nursing
The First Year Parish Nurse Grants provided for the following purchases:
10 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
40+ volunteers trained in CPR/AED use
Instructional equipment for CPR training
New and updated First Aid kits and medical supplies
Educational materials for health promotion.
Outreach services and equipment to those with special medical needs
35 Parish Nurse Parishes
The Diocese is served by over 100 Parish Nurses
The Catholic Parish Nurse answers the call to share their talents as health educators and advocates with those in the community, addressing the threefold aspect of each person; body, mind and soul. The parish nurse provides support for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all who seek their services. Humans are made in the image of the Triune God and it is necessary to honor the Trinitarian identity of each individual.
Diocesan Parish Nursing
As Catholics we are called to promote the dignity of every human life, especially the most vulnerable. The Parish Nurses of the Diocese of Camden reach out to the elderly and disabled in Southern New Jersey, compassionately serving all individuals in our parish and community, seeing each individual as part of the Body of Christ.
The various roles of a Catholic Parish Nurse:
- They are educators on various topic and skills such as; CPR, Catholic Advanced Directives, Dealing with depression, Diabetes and so much more.
- They are facilitators in organizing volunteers and resources in the community.
- They are advocates for those who need help in finding local, state or federal services, or who may be need assistance in getting medical supplies, adaptive equipment, or finding help for those isolated by circumstances.
- They are navigators in the healthcare arena, translating what is being said and how that effects the larger picture in a person’s life.
- They are integrators of faith and health in an environment which is often distant and impersonal.
- They are above all a Spiritual Presence in the lives of the faithful, holding their cares and concerns in prayer and providing companionship through life’s journey.
There are things which parish nurses do not do, such as hands-on care. They do not perform any treatments, dressing changes or administer medications.
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