The mission of the Parish Nurse Council


CAMDEN — The Parish Nurse Council of the Diocese of Camden was created in 2002 by a group of nurses who established nursing ministries in their respective parishes. They envisioned a ministry in every parish within the diocese.

According to Kay Peters, an original member of the council, the body is designed to promote and support parish nursing and health ministries.

“Our goals are to establish parish nurse/health ministries in all the parishes of the diocese,” she said, “provide education, spiritual, and professional support for parish nurses and to promote membership and participation in the Parish Nurse Council. In addition the council is to collaborate with institutions of learning, health care organization, and diocesan services.”

When the council was formed a plan was developed that included the mission of the council which is to promote and support parish nursing and health ministries within the diocese.

Since 2010, Dr. Donna Callaghan has been president of the council and is the founding member and coordinator of the Parish Nursing Ministry at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Williamstown, which was established in 2005.

She is also an associate professor of nursing at Widener University, Chester, Pa., where she is director of the MSN Programs. Her program of research has focused on spirituality, religion and health.

Eight Registered Nurses are part of the ministry at Our Lady of Peace. Some of the ministry’s activities include a yearly health screening event, quarterly health topic presentations, and monthly health promotion information published in the bulletins.

Some of the goals reached by the council in the past few years have included educational programs for parish nurses in the diocese. One of these programs is the “Foundations of Faith Community Nursing,” recommended for those who are parish nurses or are considering becoming one, according to Callaghan.

Another goal was the development of the organization’s website (

“Included on the website are newsletters, program announcements, and various resources such as articles related to parish nursing,” she said. Dawn Slowinski, council vice president, is the webmaster for the site.

According to Callaghan, a parish nurse who joins the council must have an active state Registered Nurse license and personal liability insurance. Also, she noted, completion of the “Foundations of Faith Community Nursing” course “is highly recommended.”

The practice of parish nursing is guided by the American Nurses’ Association Faith Community Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice (2012).

Martin Idler, a member of the council’s board of directors, was instrumental in the initial organization of the council in 2001, said Peters, and “has continued to help our development with his business acumen and knowledge of health care.”

Idler is executive director of Diocesan Health Services.