My Journey in Parish Nursing
Throughout my life and my nursing career I have always felt a need to serve the church in a special way. When I read about ICHM’s Parish Nursing Program, I believed that this could be the direction that would fulfill my need. In 2004 I was offered the role of Coordinator of Nursing Services for a national youth gathering that was held in Hamilton ON—the Listen UP youth gathering. I was blessed with a group of concerned nurses and physicians who offered their expertise to ensure that youth, and their leaders, remain healthy throughout the gathering activities.
At this youth gathering, led by Rev. Tom Doherty, former ICHM Regional Director in Ontario, I met a parish nurse, Valerie Jenkins, former ICHM National Education Director, who talked to me about the role of the parish nurse. I had many conversations with Valerie over the weeks and months following this gathering. However, there was one event at the youth gathering that was a defining moment for me. I attended a Labyrinth session, led by Valerie, called the Sacred Path. It was a time of quiet reflection and spiritual enlightenment. It was during this time that I realized I wanted to learn more about the role of the nurse within the church community.
In the spring of 2005, I prepared a proposal for our church council about parish nursing and attended the council meeting with Pastor Tom Doherty. I had the support of the council and my pastor at the time, as well as a group of caring people within the church. During the summer of that year I applied to ICHM to attend the then three-year program at Emmanuel College in Toronto. I graduated in November of 2007 and have been working within my church—Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hamilton—ever since.
Over the years I have mentored several young women from the ICHM program as well as young women from the St. Peter’s program in London, ON. I have attended retreats and conferences as I was able, and work within my faith community. Our congregation is an aging one so I do many nursing home visits and home visits. I take people to appointments and support family when their loved ones are in surgery. Blood pressure clinics are not very successful in our church, but I have done community clinics and discovered individuals in need of urgent care.
I continue to practice parish nursing and believe this is the work that I was searching for during my life and career. To link health, healing, and wholeness of body, mind and spirit to the physical aspects of an individual’s life is part of my nursing philosophy.
I believe I listened carefully to the words of those who guided me; I did not lose sight of them and let them penetrate into my heart; they brought me to life and healed my body (a paraphrase of Proverbs 4:20-22).
Author: Bonnie Hofer, RN, Parish Nurse at Faith Lutheran Church in Hamilton.
Editor: Luba Rascheff, ICHM Staff