“The simplest and most practical lesson I know … is to resolve to be good today, but better tomorrow.”

Catherine McAuley, RSM, Founder of the Sisters of Mercy 

Pittsburgh Mercy Health Ministry Dinner & Gathering

Save the Date!

November 15, 2019

UPMC Mercy
Sister M. Ferdinand Clark Auditorium
1400 Locust Street, Second Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-5144 (Uptown)

Registration for the Pittsburgh Mercy Health Ministry Dinner & Gathering begins at 5 p.m., followed by dinner and program from 6 to 8 p.m.

The event will provide continuing education, resources, and networking opportunities to individuals who are interested in starting or enhancing health ministries in their faith communities, as well as in the general public. Attendees will consider what is working and not working within their ministries, how they can acquire needed resources and people, how they can rejuvenate an established health ministry, and what established programs can help them care for people in need within their faith communities.

The gathering is expected to draw parish and faith community nurses, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified registered nurse practitioners, health ministers, clergy, pastoral and social ministers, physicians, health and social service professionals, licensed professional counselors, health care educators, nursing students, seminarians, and others interested in promoting whole-person health.

Overnight accommodations are available at the Martina Spiritual Renewal Center, 5244 Clarwin Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15229 (West View) at a reasonable cost. For details, contact Sister Donna Smith, SHS at 412-931-9766.

Registration coming soon. For more information, please contact us at 412-232-5815 or email ParishNurse@pittsburghmercy.org.


Health Ministry Education

The Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program offers creative heath ministry workshops and education programs for laypersons and health professionals who want to serve their faith communities. We’ll work with you to prepare programs that will meet the unique needs of your faith community or organization. We’ll also tailor topics to fit your learning needs.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • What is Health Ministry?
  • Advocacy & Referral
  • Building a Health Ministry Team
  • Coordinating Volunteers
  • Promoting Health & Wellness in Your Faith Community
  • Spiritual Care of the Elderly with Dementia
  • Understanding Grief & Loss
  • Visitation Ministry.

Depending on the topic, health ministry education programs can last from two to six hours.

We encourage a minimum of 10 participants per program.

Health ministry education programs are offered at no cost to faith communities and faith-based organizations. However, to cover the costs of travel, education materials (hand-outs), and advertisement in “The Faith Connection,” our monthly e-newsletter, we gladly accept donations.

To design a health ministry education program to meet the needs of your faith community or organization, please contact us at 412-232-5815.


Spiritual Retreat

Reflections from Our Spring 2019 Spiritual Retreat: “The Spirituality & Science of Self-Compassion”

The Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program offered a spiritual retreat on Saturday, March 9, 2019, at Martina Spiritual Renewal Center in Pittsburgh’s North Hills community of West View. A special thanks to Sister Donna Smith, SHS at Martina for providing a wonderful space. Our retreat facilitator, Anne Kertz Kernion, a frequent lecturer on topics blending neuroscience, positive psychology, and spirituality, brought her expertise and enthusiasm.

Spiritual Retreat 2019

The purpose of the retreat was to spend time away from our busy lives to focus on our relationship with our Creator as well as learning more about self-compassion. The retreat drew upon recent findings in neuroscience and psychology, illuminating self-care and spiritual practices that nurture gentleness, kindness, and patience toward one’s self.

A total of 25 participants attended this Day Retreat of prayer, self-reflection, learning, and relaxed fellowship. Participants used Scripture, prayer, writing, art, music, quiet time, and group reflection. Our sessions together were inspirational and enlightening as we listened more attentively to our Creator — not only with words, but also with music, breath prayer, and silence.

Many of us left our day together with suggestions for a deeper prayer life, appreciation for our gifts and talents, and greater self-awareness of our need for self-compassion so that we can minister to others.

Our retreats are designed for the following audiences:

  • Faith community nurses and parish nurses
  • Registered nurses
  • Certified registered nurse practitioners
  • Clergy, religious, and laity
  • Health and social service professionals
  • Health, pastoral, and social ministers
  • Health educators
  • Licensed professional counselors
  • Physicians.

For more information about our next Spiritual Retreat, please contact us at 412-232-5815. 


Faith Community Nurse & Health Ministry Educational Meetings

The Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program is hosting five Faith Community Nurse & Health Ministry Educational Meetings in Allegheny and Beaver counties that will provide two contact hours for registered nurses and valuable information for others who attend. This educational offering, “Spiritual Care of the Elderly with Dementia,” will focus on understanding dementia and the collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Participants will explore the roles of faith community nurses and health ministers as they offer spiritual care to those parishioners/congregation members with dementia and their family caregivers.

The meeting can benefit faith community nurses, health ministers, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, clergy/laity, and anyone interested in learning about wholistic care approach (whole-person health) and committed to educating their local parishioners. The goal of the meeting is to emphasize the importance of networking, fellowship, learning, and peer support for faith community nurses and health ministers as they assist their congregations and local community to better whole-person health – body, mind, and spirit.

The meeting is free for those who do not wish to receive continuing education credits and $10 for registered nurses who want the educational credits. A check or cash are acceptable at the door. Light refreshments will be provided.

Upon completion, participants will be able to:

  • Define dementia and recognize common types of dementia
  • Understand the role of the faith community nurse and health minister in providing spiritual care to those members with dementia and their family caregivers
  • Discuss using a wholistic care approach and interventions that have a supportive stance compared to a confrontational stance
  • Explore various religious objects that may have spiritual and emotional significance as one’s cognition declines.

Registration for all sessions begins at 5:30 p.m.; the program runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

Locations and dates are:

  • Penn Hills: Monday, May 20, 2019: Zion Lutheran Church, Community Room, 11609 Frankstown Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15235.
  • McCandless: Thursday, May 30, 2019: Southwestern Pennsylvania Lutheran Synod, Chapel Area, 9625 Perry Highway (intersection of Route 19 and Ingomar Road), Pittsburgh, PA 15237. Use upper parking lot, accessible from Ingomar Road.
  • Bethel Park: Thursday, June 6, 2019: Christ United Methodist Church, Conference Room A105, 44 Highland Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102. Enter church building door No. 2 under the portico.
  • Aliquippa: Wednesday, June 12, 2019: St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, Rectory Meeting House, basement area, 115 Trinity Drive, Aliquippa, PA 15001.
  • Pittsburgh (Uptown): Wednesday, June 19, 2019: UPMC Mercy, Sr. M. Ferdinand Clark Auditorium – Side A, 1400 Locust Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Use hospital parking garage and ticket will be validated.

While attending the location nearest to one’s faith community is suggested to benefit from peer support and local community resources, participants are welcome to attend the session that best suits their schedule.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation (ANCC). A participant must attend the entire session and complete an evaluation form before being awarded a certificate and two continuing education credits. Partial credit is not awarded. UPMC and ANCC do not endorse any commercial products as a result of this CE activity. 

For more information or to register, contact the Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program at 412-232-5815 or email ParishNurse@pittsburghmercy.org.


25th Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Symposium

Reflections from Our 25th Symposium: “Celebrating Health Ministry: Our Past, Present, and Future”

Our 25th symposium, held on Saturday, October 28, 2017, in Pittsburgh, Pa., and entitled “Celebrating Health Ministry: Our Past, Present, and Future,”  was a great success, assisting participants in reflecting more deeply on how we provide wholistic care (whole-person care) to those we serve in our faith communities. The symposium celebrated our past in faith community nursing, magnified our present service to those in need, and moved us forward to the dynamic vision for the future of health ministry.

We explored important health care trends:

  • Wholistic care
  • Cultural competency
  • Diversity appreciation
  • Complex community needs
  • Addiction
  • Behavioral health concerns.
Marlene Feagan (right) receives a Terrible Towel from Sister Rebecca Nolan (left)

Our wonderful guest speaker, Marlene Feagan, MA, BSN, RN-BC, president of Health Ministries Association, Inc. (pictured holding a beloved  Terrible Towel), encouraged all 52 attendees to address our own individual callings to health ministry as well as to look honestly at areas needing further discernment and prayer in our faith communities.

Marlene also facilitated roundtable discussions to move us beyond our ecumenical boundaries, and intersect faith and health concerns across social avenues focusing on those who are identified with homelessness, addiction, behavioral health concerns, and spiritual challenges.

She also engaged us with questions that may not always have answers when it comes to providing wholistic care in faith communities. The spirit-filled room opened and closed with prayer and singing as attendees bonded together.

Participants at our 25th Annual Symposium

We learned from each other and became better equipped to lead our faith communities through the ministry of healing. As it says in Isaiah 40:11 NIV, “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads…”. God’s blessings to you in your ministry!

For more information about the 25th Annual Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Symposium, please contact us at 412-232-5815.