Parish Nurse Ministry growing in Diocese of Camden


parishnurses-webThe mission of the Parish Nurse Council of the Diocese of Camden is to promote and support parish nursing and health ministries within the diocese. Pictured are the board members. Front: Dawn Slowinski (left) and Donna Callaghan. Standing, from left: Loretta Stech, Joanne Farrell, Dee Galloway, Denise Mansfield and Cookie Dickerson. Not Pictured: Kay Peters.

The Parish Nurse Council of the Diocese of Camden was established in 2002, in response to the growing practice specialty of parish nursing. Five years later some 40 parishes had a parish nursing or health ministry, and approximately 70 nurses were active parish nurses.

With the reconfiguration of parishes taking place, the exact number of parish nurses currently serving in parishes is hard to determine, but the council says the number has increased steadily over the years.

The parish nursing movement was founded in 1984 by Granger E. Westberg, a Lutheran clergyman. Out of this movement, the International Parish Nurse Resource Center was established in St. Louis, and still is a support for parish nurses and their ministries throughout the country.

The mission of the Parish Nurse Council of the Diocese of Camden is to promote and support parish nursing and health ministries within the diocese. The goals of the council include: to establish parish nursing/health ministries in all of the parishes in the diocese, to provide educational, spiritual, and professional support for parish nurses, to promote membership and participation in the Parish Nurse Council, and to collaborate with institutions of learning, health care organizations, and diocesan services in meeting these goals.

Members of the Parish Nurse Council Board are Donna Callaghan, Our Lady of Peace, Williamstown, president; Dawn Slowinski, St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus, Runnemede, vice-president; Kay Peters, Church of the Incarnation, Mantua, secretary; Cookie Dickerson, St. Agnes, Blackwood, treasurer; JoAnne Farrell, St. Agnes, Blackwood; Dee Galloway, Holy Family, Sewell; and Loretta Stech, St. Andrew the Apostle, Gibbsboro, directors-at-large, Denise Mansfield, St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus, Runnemede, past-president and Martin B. Idler, executive director, Health Services Division of the Diocese of Camden.

The council is currently seeking a a priest, deacon, or sister to serve as its spiritual director who has an interest in the council’s holistic view of health and the philosophy that spiritual health is central to well-being. (Contact Donna Callaghan, 856-875-7511, or

The practice of parish nursing is guided by the American Nurses’ Association Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice (2005). Some of the roles of the parish nurse that are based on these guidelines are health counselor, health educator, referral agent, advocate, integrator of faith and health, and coordinator of volunteer services. Roles that a parish nurse assumes within a parish are influenced by the needs of the community and the expertise of the parish nurse.

The resources provided by the Parish Nurse Council include information and forms related to parish nursing that can be mailed or emailed to interested parish nurses if requested. Some examples of this information are assessment tools, health surveys, and blood pressure screening protocols. Parish Nursing Ministry starter kits are available that include three blood pressure cuff sizes, a stethoscope, a canvas bag, and a book describing the essentials of parish nursing. The ministry also offers grants to active parish nurses within the diocese to support attendance at conferences and/or educational programs that will enhance the ministry (see more Parish Nurse Council information on the diocesan website at

An upcoming educational program that will be offered this spring is the Faith Community Nursing Certificate Program, which is an introductory prep course for active parish nurses or those nurses who would like to start a ministry and have the support of their pastors. This program will be held at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Gibbsboro on the following dates: April 23, 24, May 7, 8, 21, and 22, 2010. Please call the Parish Nurse Council at 856-342-4176 or email for more information.