To quote St. Benedict, “When we walk alongside those suffering from pain—emotional, physical or spiritual—we get a glimpse of their soul and receive so much more than we give.” For me, this exemplifies the parish nursing ministry.
In the Spring of 2005, my career as Director of Health Services at St. Andrew’s College was coming to an end. Retirement was looming and I was certainly not ready for that! I began discerning God’s will for my future.
That spring, I was invited to hear Gail Brimbecom, one of the founders of InterChurch Health Ministries (ICHM) Canada, speak about the Parish Nursing Ministry. I was excited. This was something new to me. Listening to Gail, I knew that God was calling me to this ministry. It was not time to retire; it was, instead, time to embark on a new vocation.
Here I am dancing with a friend at a surprise celebration held in my honour at Aurora’s Trinity Church.
My journey of “walking alongside” my clients as a parish nurse began in the fall of 2005 when I enrolled in the ICHM Parish Nursing Education Program at Emmanuel College, in the University of Toronto.
At the 2015 Service of Recognition and Blessing which took place in the chapel at Emmanuel College. (I’m on the left beside Peg Earle.)
French philosopher, author, journalist and Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus is well known for having said, “Don’t walk behind me I may not lead, don’t walk in front of me I may not follow, walk beside me and be my friend.”
To me, parish nursing means walking alongside the fragile elderly as they navigate the complicated health care system. It’s all about walking alongside those who can no longer recall their partner’s name, reminding them that God never forgets their name, that they are never alone. It’s about being present when one is bent over with the weight of suffering, grieving the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, the loss of a relationship.
As parish nurses, we can be present in everyday ways through advocacy, referrals, a visit, or a a telephone call. In doing so, we become the “presence of God” in our clients’ lives.
Text: Carol Rose-Kudelka, RN, PN | Photography: L. Rascheff