“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 Prayer Gathering Reflections

Celebrated 30 years (1991-2021)

On Saturday mid-morning, November 13, 2021 the Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program hosted its annual autumn event titled “Spirituality and COVID-19… Life Lessons” via a virtual format. It was a special time of learning, prayer, and fellowship. The purpose was to help participants network together and enhance their knowledge about spiritual care of self and others in need.

There were a total of 21 participants who shared their ideas and suggestions about self-compassion, motivating others, creating safe space through connection, and spiritual health. Due to the pandemic, there has been a lot of discussion among faith community nurses and health ministers about addressing the spiritual needs of those serving in ministry as well as the needs of our congregants. Our guest speaker, Edwina Gateley, brought her insights, storytelling, poetry, and encouraging words. She invited all participants to recommit our lives to Creator through solitude, prayer, meditation, Scripture reading, music, spiritual journaling, and spending time alone in sacred space. When we exercise these suggestions, we create space and time for healing and hope. Ministry can be draining … many run the risk of poor self-care practices over time. Our guest speaker’s reminders were the right medicine for our spiritual and emotional longings during this challenging time in the COVID Pandemic.

Also, we are appreciative for those who chose to spend their Saturday morning with us so that we could listen and encourage each other in our ministries and professional work. Participants left with encouragement and time spent for self-care and self-compassion as we continue to serve God with our gifts, talents, and time. We learned from our guest speaker as well as each other through virtual break-out groups and shared conversation. We learned how to better equip ourselves by spending time in daily spiritual disciplines with God as we lead persons served thorough the ministry of faith, health and healing.  God’s blessings to all in 2022.

Virtual Peer Support, Learning, & Conversation 2022

The goal 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 health and well-being.

The target audience is faith community nurses, health ministers, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, clergy/laity, and anyone interested in learning about wholistic care (whole-person health) approach as we commit to health advocacy and education of others.

Participants will take part in a brief learning activity such as a PowerPoint presentation, a video clip, a short article, or case study, then participate in group discussion on the chosen topic. There will be time for Q&A by using peer discussion and brainstorming.

These virtual offerings are FREE. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link, meeting ID, password, and agenda. Dial-in option is available. Registration deadline is by 3 p.m. ET on the meeting date of your choice.

Each meeting is held on the 3rd Tuesday evening of the month beginning at 7 p.m. ET (except where noted below) and lasts one hour.

March 15

April 19

May 17

June 21

September 20

October 18

November 15


For more information or to register, contact the Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program by email ParishNurse@pittsburghmercy.org or call 412-442-1951.

Virtual Candle Meditation & Prayer Gatherings 2022

A wonderful opportunity to experience spiritual awareness and group faith sharing through a virtual setting. All are invited to this quiet place and time to prayerfully reflect on whole-person health … balancing body, mind, and spirit. You are invited to this special time away to continue with safe, better health and well-being.

These virtual offerings are FREE.  Registration is required to receive the Zoom link, meeting ID, password, and agenda. Dial-in option is available. Registration deadline is by 3 p.m. ET on the gathering date of your choice.

Wednesday, March 23, 7 p.m. ET – The Budding of Spring

Thursday, June 16, 7 p.m. ET – Summer Sun

Tuesday, September 13, 7 p.m. ET – Fall Foliage

Tuesday, December 13, 7 p.m. ET – Winter Solstice


For more information or to register, contact the Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program by email ParishNurse@pittsburghmercy.org or call 412-442-1951.

Reflections from our Book Journal Club – Spring 2022

The Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program offered its first-ever Virtual Book Journal Club in April and May 2022. This new learning opportunity was intended to encourage spiritual growth in group participants through using a book for daily prayer and meditation. This book was titled “The Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiritual Growth” by well-known author and spiritual director Joyce Rupp. For six sessions, participants gathered virtually for a time of self-reflection, learning, fellowship, and spiritual reading with a communal focus on spiritual health. Guided Imagery and Visio Divina were a few of the approaches used to enhance our centering with prayer, contemplation, and spiritual listening. There were seven individuals who met regularly for this faith-sharing time which encouraged new friendships and peer bonding.

We are grateful to those individuals who participated and spread their wings with different forms of prayer. For many, this was their first time to experience a book journal club especially in a virtual format. We encourage faith community nurses and health ministers to be open to “stretching” their spiritual practices and learn new ways of connecting with Creator. Many of us left our final session with a commitment for a deeper prayer life and an appreciation for the importance of spiritual growth in our lives.

May we all take time this summer for some spiritual health and self-care which includes nature walks, walking a labyrinth, discovering Centering Prayer, engaging in spiritual &/or gratitude journaling, practicing mindful coloring, meeting regularly with a spiritual director or companion, and reading Scripture &/or spiritual works from mentors. Putting aside 10 minutes a day for some spiritual health will help in dealing with daily life challenges. We suggest scheduling this time as an appointment on the calendar with an anticipation in feeling refreshed and renewed.

To learn more about spiritual companionship, deep spiritual listening, and different prayer forms, visit this link at https://www.sdicompanions.org/  Also, to learn about Joyce Rupp’s Whoosh Prayer, visit this link at https://www.sdicompanions.org/the-whoosh-prayer/


Faith Community Nursing & Health Ministry Education: Customized for Your Ministry

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 412-442-1951.

Pittsburgh Pastoral Care Conference 2022

This year’s Pittsburgh Pastoral Care Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, May 6, 2022 at Christ United Methodist Church, 44 Highland Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102. Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program is part of the planning team. The conference is for clergy, pastors, laity, counselors, social workers, nurses, teachers, volunteers, and others in the flock helping those needing healing and recovery. Details are available at https://www.pghpcc.org/.

For more information, please contact us at 412-442-1951 or email ParishNurse@pittsburghmercy.org.

Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Retreat 2022 Reflections

Two women standing
Sister Donna Smith, SHS, of Martina Spiritual Renewal Center and Jo Ann Paradise, retreat presenter

The Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program offered a spiritual retreat, “The Great Divide,” on Saturday, March 5, 2022 at Martina Spiritual Renewal Center in Pittsburgh’s West View area. A special “thanks” to Sister Donna Smith, SHS, at Martina for providing a wonderful space and lunch. Our retreat facilitator, JoAnn Paradise, brought her insight, expertise and creativity to this special group of 23 retreatants.

The purpose of this retreat was to spend time away from our busy lives and to focus on our relationship with Creator. We learned about contemplative prayer and to pay attention to what emerges inside of us through our thoughts, feelings, actions, behaviors, and silence. By reshaping our spiritual practices, we can give God our joy and draw closer to our loving Creator, which is our primary purpose in life. We build trust with God, ourselves, and others so that we can explore new and meaningful approaches to spiritual disciplines.

The Pittsburgh Mercy Parish Nurse Team gave a “toolkit” to each retreatant as  encouragement to practice one’s faith and draw closer to our delightful Creator. Each “toolkit” included items to awaken the inner child in us, such as a spiritual journal, colored pencils, coloring Mandala, a small devotional book, a rock or wooden décor with inspirational words, and much more.


Day Retreat 2022 participants

Many of us left our day together with a commitment for a deeper prayer life and an appreciation to our Creator for spiritual healing that is most needed during this challenging time in our world’s history.

We close our Retreat 2022 Reflections with a prayer from Joyce Rupp titled “The Weaver.”

I am the loom full of promise.

You are the divine Weaver.

The colorful threads you merge

Consist of my life’s components.

I do not see your interfacing

But I sense a steady movement.

As the cloth of love develops.

I trust in what you are creating

As the shuttle of your action

Lifts in and out of my loomed self. 



For more information about our next Spiritual Retreat, please contact us at 412-442-1951 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 412-442-1951.