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Called to serve: Greenwood, Indiana.

Our Health and Care ministry opens its doors for parishioners to bring their cares and concerns to me as the parish nurse. Our Health and Care Ministry goals: "Bringing together faith and health to promote the wellness of our members through prayer, support, care and compassion, wellness, and resources."

As the parish nurse. I guide parishioners to resources in the community as well as health, wellness and spiritual resources available through our church and health ministry programs. I assist our Pastor, Fr. Vincent Lampert by arranging The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick service each month for those wanting to receive the grace of this Sacrament, schedule visits with the sick and homebound, and assist with funeral planning. The Ministry also offers a Bereavement Support Group, Caregivers Support Group, plans a Mass of Remembrance, and a Memorial Service for Early Infant Loss, Senior Christian Yoga class, Senior Free Weight Lifting, Blood Drives, Blood Pressure Screenings, Prayer Shawl Ministry, CPR & AED Training, Safe Sitter Classes and transportation.

The most important part of the Ministry for me is to assure the sick, homebound and bereaved of God's continuing presence and love in their lives as they struggle with the challenges life presents them. The Health and Care Ministry connects parishioners back with their faith by reminding them of the healing power of the Mass and the Sacraments of the church. Examples of this include of The Mass of Remembrance on All Souls Day, which honors all of our loved ones who have passed, especially those who have died in the past year. In 2010 we read the names of 67 loved ones who had passed.

In 2010 we offered our first annual Memorial Service for Early Infant Loss. At this service a man who lost his son 64 years ago attended. It was very moving to see how he had never healed from the loss, because this loss had never been recognized. As a Parish Nurse, you never know how or when God will open opportunities to touch someone's life.

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Last March, we started a Prayer Shawl Ministry. The members of this ministry pray while creating shawls. Fr. Vincent Lampert blesses the shawls and the Ministry distributes them to those who are suffering. I mailed a prayer shawl to a person who was recovering from surgery for removal of a brain tumor. She was in great pain, and depressed. Her husband opened the package and laid the prayer shawl on her. She stated an hour after he put the prayer shawl on her she no longer had any pain or fear. This is one of many stories of how our Prayer Shawl Ministry does Christ's work on earth, touching someone's life with gifts they were given by God.

We offer health programs for the well-being of our parishioners. Some of those programs include: blood pressure screenings and PSA screenings. This past year we had 37 men screened at the PSA screening and 6 were found to need further follow-up. In past years we have had two men diagnosed early and successfully treated for their prostate cancer.

In addition, we offer CPR and AED trainings. In the month of April, we had two emergencies at the church which required emergency personnel to be called. The church staff commented that because of the training they received, everyone knew what to do until the EMTs arrived. The emergency situations were handled efficiently.

We offer a Senior Mass and Lunch each month, and the seniors look forward to our annual Senior Christmas party. We invite the residents from an area assisted living center to join our group. Saints Francis and Clare is a very young parish, and by offering the senior programs we recognize the importance of seniors in our lives and the history they bring to our congregation.

The call to Parish Nursing was very strong for me. I feel privileged to be on the journey with our church people when they are most vulnerable and suffering. The most powerful part of being a Parish Nurse is always being a witness to the gift of God's presence.

By Shirley Loesch, RN, BSN, Parish Nurse Coordinator of the Health and Care Ministry Saints Francis and Clare Catholic Church
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Author:Loesch, Shirley
Publication:Parish Nurse Perspectives
Date:Jun 22, 2011
Words:704
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