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History of Faith Community Nursing in St. Cloud

Sister Michaea Byron, former President of the College of Saint Teresa, was instrumental in bringing Parish Nursing to this area. In 1993 she was asked by Bishop Jerome Hanus of the Diocese of Saint Cloud to be a consultant for the St. Cloud Hospital and the St. Cloud Clinic of Internal Medicine to combine the systems which took place in 1995 with the creation of the CentraCare.

The U. S Bishops were recommending that dioceses have a coordinator of Health Ministry, and so Bishop John Kinney asked Sister Michaea to continue to serve the Diocese of Saint Cloud as Coordinator of Health Ministry. One of her roles was to develop a Parish Nurse Ministry.

She worked with the College of Saint Benedict to hold a Parish Nurse class. The first local class for training in Parish Nursing was taught at the College of Saint Benedict in the spring of 1997.

Things were coming together and in 1996 a dozen parish nurses of many denominations began formally meeting at the St. Cloud Hospital monthly to discuss how they could help minister to the health of their congregations. Some had been meeting at a restaurant for support. 20-30 nurses attended the monthly meetings at the SC Hospital, getting spiritual nourishment, learning new things to help in their roles and offering support and suggestions to each other. This group is still known as the Central MN Parish Nurse Ministry Committee and elects officers to serve for two year terms to lead the group. They meet the second Wednesday of the month from 9-10:30 am at the Saint Cloud Hospital Conference Center. Sister Michaea and Linda Chimelewski, Chief Nursing Officer, Saint Cloud Hospital, were instrumental in creating a collaboration and support for Parish Nursing with a contract that has been renewed annually with provisions that support Parish Nursing.

Sister Michaea Byron and Linda Chmielewski at the same time started a committee with the goal of supporting the work of parish nursing. The Parish Nurse Partnership of Central Minnesota, which included the St. Cloud Hospital, the Diocese of St. Cloud, College of St. Benedict, community agencies, churches of various denominations and parish nurses, was formed at about the same time to support parish nurses in their work. One of the benefits set at the time which continues, is an annual workshop for parish nurses put on by the SCH Education Department. The support has been vital to parish nurses enabling them to continue to network. This committee continues to meet as Health Ministries of Central MN with the focus of supporting Faith Community Nursing and Health Ministries in churches, with a part time position of Parish Health Ministries Program Coordinator, employed through the Diocese of Saint Cloud, with support of the St. Cloud Hospital, from Sister Michaea’s hiring until April 2015, when the position came under the leadership of the Department of Spiritual Care and Mission of the Saint Cloud Hospital.