Read the experiences of some of our faith community nurses.
Ellen Ellickson, RN, Cold Spring
My Health Ministry at Peace Lutheran Church
I pray for members and friends who are in need of healing prayers. I keep office hours on Fridays from 10 a.m to noon. During this time phone calls and visits are made to members. Members are invited to stop by for health counseling such as blood pressure checks or medication reviews. I give prayer shawls to people who are in need of extra prayer and spiritual support such as those facing surgery or suffering from an acute illness.
A special focus of prayer is for people who have recently received a new diagnosis of a serious illness. I offer prayer and support for our clergy team and administrative support team. I give a onesie to new babies at their baptism that says: I am a Peaceful baby! I write frequent health care articles for the monthly newsletter. I visit members in their homes or hospital or long term care settings. I welcome new members as they join the church and look for ways to connect them with a group or ministry that they would enjoy. I am always available to offer prayer and encouragement for members and friends and to visit those who are sick or in need of a visit. My hours are included in the church calendar and the weekly bulletin.
On a personal note – we live on a hobby farm and rescue animals. I have 20 rescued cats and we foster English Springer Spaniels who are awaiting adoption and are in need of a home. We have four rescued English Springer Spaniels. The picture is of me and Spark, our first rescued Springer. We also have 5 grandchildren who enjoy “Farm Camp” whenever they can.
Ellen Ellickson has served as President and Acting Vice-President of the Central Minnesota Parish Nurse Ministry Committee and is Faith Community Nurse at Peace Lutheran Church in Cold Spring.
Bibiana Gazett, RN, St. Cloud
St. Peter's Church
When I spoke with Bibiana (Bea) Gazett, she said her parents named her after the Saint of the Day on which she was born, a common practice in Catholic homes. Bibiana attended St. Francis School of Nursing in Breckenridge. She worked at St. Gabriel Hospital in Little Falls for 10 years, then 30 years at the St. Cloud Hospital as a Surgical Care Nurse in Post-Surgical Care. She knew Connie Moline well as a parishioner and a nurse. Connie had started parish nursing at St. Peter’s in 1996 and Bibiana says “Connie prayed that I would become a parish nurse for a year” because “she needed a helper”. She took the parish nurse course at St. Ben’s in 1998. Bibiana says “Connie was my Mother Teresa”. “I am a giver, I have passion for parish nursing and I get joy and fulfillment from doing something for others.” She was fortunate to have a team of three parish nurses, with Marva Jorgensen and Connie.
She goes to most parish funerals and wakes even if she does not know the family to offer her caring presence, listen to their story, and say a kind word about the person. She says she receives a lot more than she gives in her interactions and feels she is a connection to the church for people. She has done a lot of home visiting and considers it one of the most inspiring aspects of her ministry. She relates that Fr. Gregory Leiser was very supportive of parish nursing in his years as Pastor when she started. He was a mentor as he always found good in everyone and it “was easy” to fulfill the mission with his support. In addition to her nursing career, Bibiana was a caregiver to her mother, family members and friends all along the way. Parish Nursing was a natural progression for her. At St. Peter’s, Connie took care of the paperwork and she was able to do what she loved, visiting people at home, hospital, and nursing home. In those early years they had a “Care Call” system where parishioners could be called daily. She considers herself a good listener, able to “be there and hold a hand” for people and made AM calls to some older church members for years. She took people to church services when they did not have a ride, to apts. such as dentist, eye doctor, in addition to being a Greeter and Eucharistic Minister at her church.
Bibiana says she has a daily prayer plan. She does not turn on her TV or radio until after 4 PM and focuses on the Spiritual all day. Mass and saying the Rosary are regular and she recommends a book her son, James, gave her, “Jesus Calling” Enjoying Peace in His Presence which is a 365 Day Devotional focusing her on her relationship with Jesus each day. It is available at Walmart.
A tidbit about Bibiana is that she has a sister, who is a few years older and is also a parish nurse, Elvira Stumpf of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Pierz. She always looked up to Elvira. Bibiana attributes credit to her mom, Connie Moline, and Mother Teresa, all of whom have inspired her as mentors, as well as thanking her children, John, Anne, and James for their support.
Another tidbit, Bibiana has a nephew in Pierz, Elvira’s son, who raises sweet corn. He delivers sacks of corn in the fall and Bibiana delivers it to parishioners she has known over the years who look forward to her coming. “They love the treat”.
She says, Connie always told her to see Jesus in everyone, even if you are having a hard time with that person, especially if you are having a hard time. Be a servant here on earth. Bibiana is a servant in her role as parish nurse.
Bibiana turned 80 on Dec. 2, 2013. What a blessing she is. She would humbly say, “I am blessed” by the work I do as a Parish Nurse.
JoAnn Gundersen, RN & Sandy Edwards, RN Fergus Falls
Bethel Lutheran in Fergus Falls
They share a paid staff position Mon. through Thur. Sandy works two days and JoAnn works the other two days, paid hourly with mileage reimbursement. Their supervisor is the Pastor. JoAnn & Sandy worked together at Lake Region Hospital for 20 years so knew each other a long time there and at church. Bethel has had the parish nurse position for 20 years and so they knew the parish nurses over the years as members. JoAnn says they meet every two months with five other FCN's from Grace Methodist and Trinity Lutheran to share and collaborate and have support for the ministry. They visit all the nursing homes each month and see 35 people on these regular visits. One of them goes to the hospital each day to see parishioners there. In home visits they make, they assess needs, connect with family of those visited and see them after a hospitalization if needed as well as new moms as needed. Their church has a food ministry that is a real blessing. Two groups of food ministers make sure there is always food to bring to homes, using frozen meals they purchase, and gift cards for Subway, pizza, etc. The parish nurses can always bring a meal for people they visit.
The church also has a very active Stephen Ministry which they work with. The Pastor is the coordinator of it. I found it very interesting that Stephen Ministry is a very active ministry in the whole community with collaboration across churches. Bethel recently commissioned three new Stephen Ministers and a total of 15 from city churches were commissioned.
Visit the Bethel Ministries web site and choose "Care". Note that they have a link to an article for people on "What is Parish Nursing".
Most important part of our Parish Nurse Ministry
JoAnn asked me to share this, "The people we visit say the biggest blessing we bring to them is reading scripture and praying with them."
JoAnn and Sandy have a long list of scripture and prayers for whatever needs present themselves.
Here is how the website at Bethel Lutheran Church's Page on Parish Nursing looks:
Discouraged? Lonely? Grieving? Feeling hopeless? Need help? Bethel 's caring ministries exist to come alongside those going through emotional, spiritual and physical challenges. Stephen Ministries. Parish Nurses. GriefShare.
Parish Nurse Ministry
The Parish Nurses share in the ministry of caring for the congregation in the following areas:
- Home visitation and assessments to seniors, shut-ins, and others, referring them to community resources as needed.
- Active listening, prayer and encouragement from God's Word for women struggling with various life issues.
- Hospital visitation and follow-up after discharge.
- Health education and health updates.
- Stephen Ministry involvement and support.
- Assistance at monthly communion and Bethel Fellowship services on the Broen Home Campus.
- Administer the meals in cooperation with Bethel's Food Ministry to the congregation
Contact Us: JoAnn Gundersen and Sandy Edwards can be reached at 218-736-5654, ext. 15 or email@example.com.
A nurse is available in the Parish Nurse office on Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. to noon for blood pressure checks, consulting on lifestyle housing (independent or assisted living or nursing home), listening or talking with you about your concerns, prayer, checking out resource books.
Marjorie Henkemeyer, RN, St. Joseph
St. Joseph's Church
Marjorie Henkemeyer, FCN at St. Joseph’s Church in St. Joseph, MN took the FCN course in June 2012 in Sauk Rapids. Marjorie has over 50 years in health care experience including leadership experience in higher education at The St. Cloud Community and Technical College, where she was a Nursing Instructor to start and became the Curriculum Coordinator, VP for Academic and Student Affairs and was a Curriculum Revision Consultant and Healthcare Instructor and Healthcare Industry Education Consultant. She has been a writer for the National League of Nursing. She received a Diploma from St. Gabriel’s School of Nursing, B.S. from SCSU, and M.ED., U of M.
Marjorie has been involved in many community organizations: St. Cloud Chamber, Kiwanis, Great River Rotary, Guatemalan Project HELPS volunteer, St. Joseph Catholic Church current Council member and past President; ESL Tutor, BeFriender Ministry member, and Ski-for-Light Certified Guide. All of these have prepared her for the new role of Faith Community Nurse. This is the path for us FCN’s, learning, being involved, making connections, caring to be part of life for our own growth and to help in ways that life leads us and trying to listen to God’s calling and how to respond throughout our lives.
Marjorie’s story of Faith Community Nursing includes a calling and a nudge from some of God’s people such as her mentor, and collaborator in her ministry, Sister Joyce Iten, who was the Pastoral Minister at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in St. Joseph. Sister Joyce had long been a support of parish nursing. Marjorie is considered Unpaid Staff, so she is at the Parish Staff meetings every other week to present what she is involved with and hears suggestions. Her official title is Health & Wellness Minister. She states that Father Jerome has been a supporter of her health ministry from the beginning. I attended Marjorie’s commissioning. It was wonderful testimony to the work when Fr. Tupa invited all nurses of the parish who were present to come and stand by Marjorie offering their support for her at the commissioning. We all count on the many others in our churches that can help in the ministry and will be willing to be called on to volunteer for some of the programs that are ongoing.
Marjorie has forged a very beneficial collaboration with the St. Ben’s and St. John’s nursing students because of her location close to them and her past relationships with education. She calls it “a wonderful marriage between college and parish”. Instructors were excited to have more community opportunities for their students with St. Joseph’s church and the St. Joseph Community. They have helped put on classes in Caregiving, Falls Prevention, and visiting families with new babies. They developed a plan to bring a basket with a white baby blanket, which many use for baptism, a Pass Along Cross, and some tea for the mom’s. Their goal has been to welcome the new family member to the church community. This has been well received with one father telling Marjorie, that he is really happy the church is doing something for young families. Marjorie is carrying on this ministry and continuing the visits. She says some ask her questions about baby topics as well as parenting. She shares with them information on community resources. Marjorie has a group of Health & Wellness committee members who meet three times a year. They review activities that have gone on, with a summary of visits, workshops, and presentations. They have held classes led by instructors from the Council on Aging and had 13 people come for eight weeks to a Matter of Balance class. The evaluation by those who came was that they really enjoyed the classes. Powerful Tools for Caregivers led by COA for eight people for six weeks is currently being held. Marjorie strongly recommends these classes and they are free from the COA. She has also arranged for a Stearns County Sheriff to come to the St. Joseph Senior Citizen meeting to pick up medications they want to get rid of. A benefit of attending the monthly Senior Citizen meetings is being able to get ideas of what they are interested in and letting them know of programs she is holding. As the church meeting space is being remodeled, the classes are held at the Senior Center. One idea her and her committee is considering is a Senior bell choir group that uses the churches bells with the benefit of range of motion and fun at the same time.
Marjorie says she was on a steep learning curve as a parish nurse and setting goals is always a balance of what she can do and how much she could do. She feels attending the Central MN Parish Nurse Ministry Committee monthly meeting at the St. Cloud Hospital gives her enormous support and a place to hear how other parish nurses practice and a place to ask questions, and get ideas and direction as well as support of those parish nurses. She serves as the VP of the group.
Marjorie shares her H & W summary of work so far below. Activities are set by the committee at their meetings and evaluated regularly.
Thank you Marjorie for sharing your ministry story with us. I have heard many parish nurse stories and continue to know that God is working through all of you. Thank you. Each one of you brings skill, care and devotion to your ministry.
Sample from her 2012-2013 Activities:
- Set up H & W Comm-2012
- PN Training - 6/12
- Set up office - 8/12
- Set up email - 8/12
- Set up voice mail - 8/12
- Commissioning - 11/12
- Write bulletin notes - 7/12 on-going
- Set up college coll - 7/12
- Begin Visits - 8/12
- Falls Prevention - 9/12 & 1/13
Alison Jergens, RN, Milaca
There are a lot of things we can do as FCNs. Alison Jergens, RN, of Milaca Evangelical Free Church has three young children. The church hired her to bring Health Ministry to 200 families who are members in a community of around 3,000 with 20 churches.
Alison “loves her job” and has worked in other health care settings. She finds this combination of faith and health most fulfilling. All because someone in her church asked her what her “dream job” would be. She answered, “being a faith community nurse.” View her Faith Community Nurse job description (PDF)
The mission of the Health Ministry at Milaca Evangelical Free Church is to promote health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual within our church community. We do this because Jesus’ ministry was a healing ministry and because Jesus sent his disciples to preach the gospel and heal the sick. Through a variety of methods, we strive to promote health and prevent illness.
The Health Ministry:
- offers CPR training, monthly blood pressure checks; home visits and calls, and grief share support groups.
- coordinates presentations on topics such as: Advanced Health Care Directives, Caring for the Caregiver, and Stress.
- coordinates Blood Drives.
The Health Ministry at MEFC is a made up of a Health Ministry Cabinet which currently consists of nine members who have a variety of professional backgrounds and a common interest in promoting health.
The FCN, Alison Jergens, is a part of this group and a member of the church staff. Faith Community Nurses are registered nurses who have specialized training to serve in a faith community.
Alison Jergens says her FCN practice is very autonomous and very family friendly. She has children ages 6, 4, and 1 ½ and works 30 hours per month. With a young family, Alison is blessed to have found a job she loves and is called to. Most work is done at an office at church and some from her home. With such a young family she cannot work without solid child care. She says it would not be possible without her husband’s help, and that of her mother and mother-in-law, who come from 1 ½ hours away to spend precious time with and take care of their grandchildren, an added bonus.
Alison also is linked with other area parish nurses such as Barb Kotsmith of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Milaca. They have coordinated a blood drive together.
When she started, she had a couple from church take her to homes to meet church members. This helped introduce her to the church members as she was new to the community.
Alison is under supervision of Senior Pastor Dan Clausen and the Health Ministry Cabinet, which has six members and meets every other month. A nurse on the Cabinet, Jackie, is the Coordinator. They have taken steps to set up an Emergency Response Team of people trained and willing to be on call during church services. Jackie is making a picture board of the team for church and she is taking the Policy & Procedure Plan to the church council for approval. Alison put together an emergency bag with supplies and an incident report form has been developed. The team received a grant from Fairview Hospital for an AED and work with them to complete CPR training.
Alison also makes visits/calls to those who are homebound, recently discharged from the hospital, widows, those living with a chronic illness, and whoever else has a need.
Another innovative idea she shared is using the prayer cards her church puts in pews for people to sign up for prayer needs. On the card one can check if they want to be called confidentially by pastoral staff and she added a spot for them to check if they wanted the Parish Nurse to Call.
Her church has Awana open for any community children, ages 3-6th grade and has programs for youth as well as adults.
Alison took her parish nursing training through Concordia College in 2009 at Mount Carmel Retreat Camp during a beautiful fall week.
Alison’s position was funded partially by the Elim Care system to start and then taken on by her church. her passion and commitment to faith community nursing in her church is evident. It is not only her “dream job” but her “calling” to serve God in her community this way.
Carolyn Neubauer, RN, Sauk Rapids
Carolyn Neubauer was commissioned on Reformation Sunday with church members wearing red and the music of trumpets. Her pastor teasingly told her it wasn’t “all for her” on the occasion, but what a great celebration day for her to be blessed and introduced to the parishioners as the new parish nurse. Living Waters is an ELCA church started in 2001 and now has 600-700 members, with a lot of young families. One unique note is they rent four preschool and daycare classrooms to a Montessori School. They have an active Youth Group and youth have some joint programs with Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell, MN. Carolyn says Pastor Todd Mattsen approached her to talk about her interest in parish nursing because he had parish nurses in other churches he served. She took the parish nurse class in Sauk Rapids June, 2012.
Carolyn has her Master’s in Nursing Education. She has taught nursing education at the St. Cloud Technical and Community College in St. Cloud for the past three years full time in the RN program. Her nursing background includes work as a paramedic, working in the float pool, and ER. She is the Customized Training representative for Emergency Services which includes Friends and Family training. Since her role is new, she is just starting out and has a Health Ministry Team that met once so far. Her church has a Care Core group which meets with pastors and discerns the needs of the Congregation; who is in the hospital, who had a baby, who is newly ill, etc. They are set up like this: Carolyn is one of 6 -¬‐8 “Herders” (of the Good Shepherd) and every member of the congregation is a sheep and has a “Shepherd”. So she has 68 parishioners she directs who do outreach to 6-¬‐8 church members, so all members of the congregation are able to be in touch with others for support and care. Family unit have a Shepherd. It is an organized way of providing the church ministry and very personal. Other Outreach Ministry programs such as the Teddy Bear Ministry, which (from the website),” provides hand sewn teddy bears, made from clothing of a deceased friend or family member. These bears are a wonderful way to remember someone special. Members of this special ministry completely handmade the bears -¬‐cutting, sewing, stuffing and sewing some more!”, Prayer Shawl Ministry, Card Ministry, Body Image workshops for girls and young women, a Holiday Brunch for those experiencing grief, and a Compassionate Friends Service and a food shelf open to those in the community and stocked by the parishioners are other examples of the many outreach activities they provide.
Carolyn attends the Central MM Parish Nurse Ministry Committee meetings the second Wednesday of the month at the St. Cloud Hospital for support as she develops her ministry. She and her husband are raising three children and so life is very full and busy. Her position is Volunteer and has wonderful support from her fellow members at Living Waters. She feels all the experience she has and the wonderful church community she is part of has come together to present this opportunity for her to serve God in a new extended way. We welcome you Carolyn and we thank your church community for supporting you so heartily.
Betty Pasela, RN, Little Falls
Seeking what is mine to do
My husband Jerry and I became Franciscan Associates in 2011. As we deepened our love for God, we found the Franciscan way of living a good fit for us. Becoming an associate was a way of fulfilling my desire to love more and give more of myself to others. Now, at 71, I still have a longing for becoming who God calls me to be; and, as Saint Francis would say, to discover what is “mine to do.”
In the mid-1960s Jerry and I served as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in West Africa. Following our two-year service, Jerry continued to work in West Africa as a staff member for the Peace Corps and for Save the Children. Altogether we spent 17 years in five different countries while working with the Peace Corps and Save the Children. We returned to the States in 1987. Jerry worked at St. Cloud State University with international students; I was an RN at St. Gabriel’s Hospital.
Our dream was to return to Africa as PCVs after we retired, but Jerry’s health did not permit this to happen. My Jerry passed away in January 2013. We have two children with three grandchildren and though I kept busy with family and volunteer work, I felt I should be doing something more. I prayed that God would show me what to do.
One day in June 2013, I had an overwhelming feeling with the message “Peace Corps.” This sounds corny, I know—but that’s what happened! I thought about it for a couple of months before approaching my children, who told me to “go for it.” I submitted my application and sat back to see if I would be accepted—and here I am, right now in 2015, a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa.
I work with very committed co-workers in a wonderful organization called Amangwe Village. All of our projects involve, either directly or indirectly, helping people prevent and/or live with HIV/AIDS. South Africa has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in Africa—you can’t find a family here that has not been affected in one way or another with this disease. Major programs include Home Based Care which cares for sick folks at home, support groups for HIV and chronic illness, a day care for 40 children, foster care placement for children, a “toy library” from which day cares can borrow books and toys, an organic garden to teach folks how to grow their own nutritious foods, and a self-help program to assist women to support themselves and their families. We also do other projects such as a wheelchair program, deliver food parcels to families in need, help people get their legal identification papers so they can go to school, and a Child Protection Day for 400 pre-schoolers.
Until a month ago, getting to Mass was a real problem for me. As a PCV I am not allowed to drive a vehicle (I can have a bicycle but at 71, I passed on that!). The closest church is in Enseleni, 10 miles away and off the local taxi route. This July we had a change in priests, and our new priest offered to pick me up for Mass. Yes! Mass is in Zulu, but I have my prayer book in English and can “generally” follow the Zulu sermons. The music is outstanding, often accompanied by dancing. Father Louis has nine other parishes to cover, having one Mass in Enseleni and then others in the outlying villages.
I do miss my family—especially my three grandchildren, but I am happy and believe this is where God wants me for the moment. So here I am, Lord! Thank you for showing me what is mine to do.
More about Betty's story
Little Falls, Our Lady of Lourdes: Faith Community Nurse going back to the Peace Corps in South Africa
Betty Pasela is returning to Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Betty left for assignment in South Africa, January 19, 2015. Betty said she would have three months of training, including three weeks of medical training, then immersion, living in a rustic area for nine weeks with a family in South Africa. Betty’s mission will be with HIV/AID’s work, in an English-speaking area. Her first Peace Corps assignment in Africa was in French West Africa, in the area that Ebola is found today, where she spent 13 years. Betty says she met her husband in the Peace Corps and they were married in Africa and their children were born there. They spent 17 years in the Peace Corps and other mission ministries before returning to Little Falls and OLOL where she has been one of five Faith Community Nurses.
From the Peace Corps website: “The Peace Corps has been a leader in international development and citizen diplomacy for more than 50 years across more than 139 countries. Since the Peace Corps' founding in 1961, the agency's mission—to promote world peace and friendship—has not. Today, the Peace Corps is more vital than ever, working in collaboration with partner organizations and using cutting-edge technologies and well-tested best practices to enhance impact.”
OLOL has four other FCN’s. Donna Deering says, “Will miss my comrade in Parish Nursing functions, esp. Our Grief Support Group mtgs. The Peace Corps are getting a Treasure!!”
Vibrant 70-year-old volunteers at Amangwe
Working in South Africa is something Betty Pasela and her late husband had planned to do.
by Donna Marie McGargill, OSM
Faith Community Nurses and those like Betty Pasela hear a call like this song.
- What do you want of me, Lord? Where do you want me to serve you? Where can I sing your praises. I am your song.
- I hear you call my name, Lord, and I am moved within me. Your Spirit stirs my deepest self. Sing your songs in me.
- Above, below, and around me. Before, behind and all through me, your Spirit burns deep within me. Fire my life with your love.
Julie Pfannenstein, RN, Great River Faith in Action
Choosing the Faith Community Nurse Course That Fits
Julie Pfannenstein, RN, Faith Community Nurse, Great River Faith in Action Case Consultant for Living Well at Home Program
Great River Faith in Action recently obtained a grant to collaborate with Faith Community Nurses in the Great River FIA geographical area and the Department of Human Services and MN Board on Aging, Living Well at Home Program. More on that as it develops! Julie P. will be the GRFIA person we connect with. I recently interviewed Julie because as part of her role there, she took an On-Line Faith Community Nurse Class thru Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD.
Julie went to college and achieved a business degree. While in college she worked as a nursing assistant and felt that calling her to a nursing career. She went to NDSU for Nursing Pre-requisites and then spent two years at Concordia to complete her BSN. Her nursing career led her to work in a Urology Clinic and in a Nursing Home as an evening supervisor and then Nurse Manager in MDS (Minimum Data Set) or as a Medicare qualifier or level of care qualifier. She was drawn to an ad for a job with Great River Faith in Action, wanting to do more direct work with people, rather than the indirect work she was doing with MDS. She accepted the job to serve the St. Cloud Area and became a Case Consultant for the Live Well at Home Program and then Case Coordinator with the goal of helping people stay in their homes with volunteer services and all resources available to them.
Julie in her role uses the Rapid Screen Assessment from the Living Well at Home Program. This is done on the initial visit, six months, and one year. The scoring helps evaluate the need for resources. If a score is three or under, resources may not be needed, and a review at a later date can reassess needs. If the Rapid Screen has a score of three or more, a review at three months is done. Julie provides resource recommendations based on needs.
As part of her role, Julie was asked by her employer to take the Faith Community Nursing Course. Heather Van Cleave, Assistant Coordinator at GRFIA is also a trained FCN. Julie researched courses based in a 5 day class option from two programs that are available in our area and on line classes. She says the cost between the site based and online class is similar. One includes transportation, meals, and cost of staying at a site for four to five nights. Because of her family needs and time constraints, she choose to take the online class from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD.
As part of her course, Julie spent two days at Avera in Sioux Falls, SD, completing the course. She said the course offered nice flexibility for her. She spent a couple of hours per week doing reading and assignments, keeping up with the class. More time was needed at the beginning to get accustomed to how it worked with computer time. She read assigned readings and all posts and comments and questions by others in the class and was able to ask questions on line, as well as speak with instructors. She also had a family need to attend to so with the on line class she was able to take needed time do this and then catch up. She met her classmates and instructors in the two days at Avera and was really stimulated by all the interaction, listening to speakers, and the sharing of books and other resources. At the end of the last day, the class was commissioned as Faith Community Nurses. Because she interacted with classmates over time on line, she felt like she got to know them well and meeting them was comfortable and easy.
Julie said Faith Community Nursing as a philosophy was not new at Great River Faith in Action, and it enhanced her work with clients. It was the asset that made her more “present” to them.
Julie’s comment on adding the role of FCN to her job at GRFIA: “Faith Community Nursing enriches the whole program”.
Sara Rick, RN, Litchfield
First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Litchfield
This is the message on the opening page of the website of Sara’s church:
May our faith in Jesus Christ equip us in service to the world to offer a faith you can use in everyday life.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, welcome to First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Litchfield. May God continue to bless this family of faith so we may continue to be a blessing to others in ways both familiar and new. Please join us to learn more about FELC by visiting us on a Sunday morning or come in and have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with us during the week. We have a rule that whoever walks in the door, someone greets them and treats them with the utmost important respect. Come, like Lord Jesus, and be our guest.
Sara Rick, RN, FCN, is a nurse on the St. Cloud Hospital Neuroscience/Spine Unit. She also is a nursing instructor for Rasmussen College Practical Nursing Student program and working on her Master’s in Education through Capella University.
Her church’s mission above talks about using one’s faith in everyday life. When Sara decided to add the role of Faith Community Nurse she wrote, “I feel strongly about completing the course. I believe the course will help me grow spiritually, professionally and spiritually.” She took the FCN Foundations five-day course last April through the Twin Cities Faith Community Nurse Network. She chose to drive back and forth to St. Paul from her home in Litchfield and commute for the class. She made a new friend at class when she met another local RN, Angela Johnson, RN, now a FCN at St. Joseph’s Church in St. Joseph. Angela joins Marjorie Henkemeyer, RN, MA, FCN, who is a FCN at St. Joseph’s. Sara applied for and received a scholarship from the Central MN Parish Nurse Committee for her class. She has taken on this new role as a volunteer FCN at her church and feels there is a much potential for growth of the role there as her church is starting to incorporate parish nursing and wellness for the congregation. Sara says 3-6 people meet from her church to discuss plans and goals including other nurses and a pharmacist. Her main work now is blood pressure screening and using table tents to publicize health information for the congregation. Other nurses at First Evangelical have been involved in wellness in other areas too. They have a prayer blanket program, each high school grad gets a quilt made by members, there is a rehab program for youth, all new baby’s get a baptismal box with a prayer blanket, a cross (a holding cross made by men of the congregation), and a candle in a beautiful keepsake wooden chest made by the men.
Sara says she is limited with what she can do now with two young children, jobs, and school and will change and build over time. Having a group of other nurses and interested people to plan and share things really is a joint effort to fulfill the mission of the church of making their faith work in everyday life together.
Sara would be happy to talk with anyone interested in being a FCN.
A resource she recommends for FC Nursing is the Journal of Christian Nursing.
Rosemary Weiser, RN, Sartell
Rosemary took the Parish Nurse course in Sauk Rapids, MN in June of 2012. Fr. Tim Baltes commissioned her at mass with FCNs Jackie McCann and Karen Reinholz at her side. It was a beautiful service and Fr. Tim referred to the goals of parish nursing in his homily and the Commissioning Ceremony. A reception followed with family, friends, and parishioners.
Rosemary states about her nursing career and route to becoming a parish nurse:
“My early career years were spent in St. Paul at Bethesda Hospital and St. John's Hospital, in Orthopedics. I then moved to California and took ICU/CCU courses. After my marriage I moved back to St. Paul and back to St. John's Hospital and then I came to St. Cloud Hospital, worked in the Float Pool and the Post Anesthesia Recovery until the opportunity came to work on the new electronic medical record project known as Epic. I, along with 4 others, created the preop/intraop/postop application. I did this until my retirement November 1, 2011.
I am so grateful I had the opportunity to become a Parish Nurse, it was one of those things on the proverbial "bucket list." Part of my ministry is visiting our parishioners who reside in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities, including hospice. I am so humbled and honored to be chosen for this great ministry.” Rosemary joined two other parish nurses, the Pastoral Associate and supervisor, along with an active Health & Wellness Committee.
Bev Wiehoff, RN, Sartell
Pastoral Associate, Deb Rudolph, asked Bev, a Health & Wellness Committee member, if she was interested in becoming a FCN-and there was a class coming up soon! Bev said yes, and quickly registered for the class taught by Joann Wessman, RN, PhD, offered by the Faith Community Nurse Network of the Greater Twin Cities, in October of 2014. When Deb asked her, she says it was an “easy decision” and the “right time”. So what brought her to this “right time” to be a Faith Community Nurse? Like all FCN’s, she has an enormous wealth of knowledge and expertise from her nursing career and states she has always gone to church and had a deep faith that has been a cornerstone of her life.
Bev graduated from the St. Cloud Hospital School of Nursing and went to work in ICU at the hospital. She accepted a clinic position at the St. Cloud Clinic of Internal Medicine to start a diabetes program. That was eliminated after a while and she went into the cancer research area there. She is remembered as a friendly face of the clinic, a nurse who called you in to see the Doctor and was remembered for her care and concern. Then to the Endocrine Center at River Campus; then to the Diabetes Center in Waite Park as an Educator. CentraCare then developed a Diabetes Center at the Plaza Campus and she was the Coordinator and Manager for six years. She relates that in 2009 she had surgery, and it did not go as well as planned and so she retired from nursing.
What would she do now? Retiring early was not her plan. Her nursing career in many areas and through many changes in the St. Cloud Hospital, CentraCare Health showed her adaptability. She found she loved volunteering. First in the classroom of the Oak Ridge Elementary School room her daughter taught in, in Sartell. She enjoyed it! Now her volunteering includes the Health & Wellness Committee at St. Francis Church, which meets every other month; Project Baby Blankets at her church where a group makes baby blankets for each of 60-70 new babies each year; collating bulletins at church each Friday; being in charge of the monthly Hospitality after the three weekend masses from Sept. to May. She schedules workers and orders food which includes 24 dozen donuts on Sunday’s; being Fraternal Secretary for Catholic United Financial, putting together the agenda, and organizing meetings four times a year and helping the group conduct an annual raffle which raises $12,000-13,000 for the St. Francis School; being Chairperson for the Parish Council; volunteer in the BeFriender Program and Faith Formation at church; and Eucharistic Minister, and Lector. Bev says her personal goal is to pass her faith on to her grandchildren. This is what they call “a good start”.
Bev told me her faith really grew when she became involved in church activities. She says she had a strong calling to that and being a Faith Community Nurse is a collaboration of all her life long nursing work, and involvement in her church. She loves having three FCN’s, a wonderful Health & Wellness Committee, and a Supervisor of the program, the Pastoral Associate, Deb Rudolph, who saw one more volunteer opportunity for her, and being on a team of Faith Community Nurses, Pastor, Priest & Deacons and Pastoral Associate and church staff, providing holistic care for members of St. Francis church.
Learn more about St. Francis Xavier's health and wellness work
Karen Reinholz, RN, Sartell
Karen Reinholz, RN, CNOR, CAPA, FCN, works at CentraCare Plaza as an RN in the Ambulatory Surgery Center. Since 2007 she has also served as a Faith Community Nurse at St. Francis Catholic Church in Sartell. What led her to that added responsibility while raising three young children and working full time? She said the Pastoral Minister at her church, Sister Cordy Korkowski, approached her and asked if she would commit time because of her faith and nursing knowledge to being a parish nurse for her church. Rather than doing a lot of different things at the church, she told Karen, “Your ministry can be in combining your nursing and your faith, commit to one ministry of parish nursing”. Karen said, “I just loved Sister Cordy”. She was so patient, understanding and non-judgmental. Sr. Cordy encouraged Karen to “just try it”. It was very non-threatening and I was to do what I could. Karen started with occasional bulletin inserts on topics to educate her faith community members. She did blood pressure screening at church events like the Parish Festival. Her husband and children helped her with some of the educational events and so the church got five volunteers!
Karen and another RN, Jackie McCann, became parish nurses together for the church, taking the five day Foundations of Parish Nursing Class. Jackie arranged blood drives at the church and they brought Take Heart CPR Training to the church, speakers on different topics and when Jackie retired, two more retired CentraCare nurses, Bev Wiehoff & Rosemary Weiser, were trained as FCN’s and joined the team. So having three FCN’s, each doing different things, along with a very active and talented Health & Wellness Committee, they have multiplied what they do as a team. Rosemary makes phone calls and visits to members in nursing homes and on birthdays. Bev has a group making baby blankets for every baby baptized at the church and presents them to parents with a special prayer welcoming them into the St. Francis faith community family. They are trained by Light the Legacy to help members with Advance Care Directives. The Heath Committee meets every other month. Deb Rudolph, the Pastoral Minister meets with the three FCN’s before the meetings to plan.
The Pastor’s have considered them team members all along. Karen says the nine years have been very rewarding and her family has been fully supportive. When Sister Cordy asked me, she saw something in me and gave me the idea and she was so enthused, it excited me. Karen has been the President of the Central MN Parish Nurse Ministry Committee and now serves as the Secretary/Treasurer and also is on the Health Ministries of Central MN Committee which is an advisory committee to the FNC’s. Karen would love to talk to you if you have an interest in Faith Community Nursing.