By Barb Arland-Fye
Fisher-Price toy camels, 54 of them, congregated on a display table during the anointing service for the Faith Community Ministry Class of 2016. The whimsical camels were gifts, given over a seven-year period by Penny Burhop-Logan to her friend, a Lutheran minister who died of cancer last fall. Having accompanied her friend through the terminal illness, Penny felt inspired to become a faith community minister. “I’m still trying to decide if I want to be a nurse when I grow up,” joked Penny, a supervisor of remittance processing at MidAmerican Energy Company in Davenport.
She was one of 12 women commissioned as faith community ministers after participating in last month’s Faith Ministry Nursing Course at Genesis Medical Center’s East Campus in Davenport. Seven of the 12 graduates belong to parishes in the Davenport Diocese. The other six belong to other faith groups. Penny belongs to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rock Island, Ill.
The course prepares registered nurses and health ministers to develop and/or participate in the healing ministry of a faith community. Faith community ministers don’t provide hands-on care. Rather, parish nurses explain, find resources, provide a listening presence, pray with and for parishioners and organize health-related activities and educational seminars for the congregation. Health ministers collaborate with parish nurses.
“We focus on the intentional care of each person,” Jennifer Hildebrand told the Class of 2016’s family and friends attending the March 6 anointing and commissioning service. Jennifer serves as coordinator of Genesis Health Ministry Nursing Program and facilitates the Faith Community Nursing Course. She also leads the Health Ministry Cabinet for Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire.
One by one, the eight graduates present (four were unable to attend the ceremony) held out their hands for Dr. Erling Larson III to anoint with oil he purchased several years ago in the Holy Land. He said he felt drawn to the shelves containing the anointing oil, but didn’t realize that some day he would use that oil for the anointing ceremonies.
Janet King of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport described the Faith Ministry Nursing Course as wonderful and said she felt a sense of camaraderie with the other students. The retired nurse appreciated taking a look at the whole spirituality of life. “Sometimes we lose that because we get caught up in the day-to-day activities. This helped bring it back home. We can’t help others until we come to know our own spirituality.”
Maggie Dubin of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf just retired after 41 years as a nurse and said parish nursing “has always been on my bucket list.” She is especially interested in helping new mothers and fathers “because I come from the OB (obstetrics) world.” Maggie appreciated the ecumenical composition of the class and the varied backgrounds. “The best thing was the personal stories we shared. Parish nursing is about letting our community members know we are present to them.”
Ann Lee of Our Lady of Victory Parish works as an RN in the quality department at Genesis and said the time was right for her to take the course. She took away a deeper sense of the value of being a presence to others and how much healing that can bring. “When you invite the Holy Spirit, I think it helps forge relationships and trust so that you can minister more deeply, and find out what people’s needs really are.”
In a prayer she composed for the anointing service, Penny said “… We thank you for the time and space to share our own stories with one another. You’ve encouraged us to listen not only with our ears, but also with our hearts. Continue to strengthen us as we provide care and healing to your broken world.”
Dr. Larson, in his closing prayer asked God to inspire the faith community ministers “to speak out on behalf of all those in need of loving care. Grant them the courage to seek out those in need of healing. Grant them wisdom to guide their days and compassion for all….”
Faith Community Ministers from the Class of 2016
• Gerri Barnett, Fort Madison, Holy Family-Fort Madison
• Katy Barrett, Davenport, Holy Family-Davenport
• Penny Burhop-Logan, Rock Island, Ill., St. John Lutheran-Rock Island
• Maggie Dubin, Bettendorf, St. John Vianney-Bettendorf
• Janet King, Davenport, Our Lady of Victory-Davenport
• Becky Layman, Geneseo, Ill., Geneseo Evangelical Free-Geneseo
• Ann Lee, Long Grove, Our Lady of Victory-Davenport
• Barb Moellers, Ossian, Iowa, St. Francis deSales-Ossian
• Dianna Paustian, Davenport, St. Anthony-Davenport
• Anita Shaft, Bettendorf, Gilda’s Club-Davenport
• Valerie Thompson, Bettendorf, St. Paul Lutheran-Davenport
• Vickie Woodbury, Davenport, St. Anthony-Davenport