Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Program
Parish nurses combine ministry with the art and science of nursing, ever mindful of the strong relationship between faith and health. Churches are, and have always been, places of healing. Through the church, we understand the meaning of health: harmony of body, mind, and spirit and living in relationship with God and with each other. Parish nurses can make a difference in peoples’ lives through ministries for health promotion, illness prevention, and support during difficult situations. Through our actions, we can reaffirm the church’s role in ministering to the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. We can become God’s instruments of healing.
Our charity is to be cordial. Now cordial signifies something that renews, invigorates and warms. Such should be the effect of our love…Catherine McAuley, 1778-1841, founder of the Sisters of Mercy
The Mercy Parish Nurse and Health Ministry Program was established in 1991 as a legacy program of the Sisters of Mercy and Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.
Parish nursing itself began in 1985 through the pioneering efforts of a Lutheran minister in Chicago, Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg. It has grown into an international movement including 10,000 nurses in the U.S. and 2,000 others globally, according to statistics from the International Parish Nurse Resource Center (IPNRC) in Memphis, Tennessee.
Mercy’s program was one of the first parish nurse programs in the U.S. and remains the only one of its kind in the Pittsburgh area.
The Mercy Parish Nurse and Health Ministry Program is committed to:
- Assisting churches to start volunteer health ministry programs that will thrive and serve the congregation
- Serving as a Resource Center to provide: consultation, support and mentoring, ideas and materials for health ministry, information about community resources, and continuing education
- Providing the Parish Nurse Basic Preparation Course, curriculum endorsed by the International Parish Nurse Resource Center (IPNRC)
- Conducting health ministry workshops to train volunteers
- Enhancing networking among all faith communities
- Promoting parish nursing as a vital ministry of the church
As an IPNRC educational partner, we conduct the Parish Nurse Basic Preparation Course annually. Since 2001, Mercy has educated and commissioned 150 RNs as parish nurses; 12 from other backgrounds have been commissioned as health ministers, including LPNs, non-health professionals, and clergy.
Since 1991, the Mercy outreach to parish nurses and health ministers in the Pittsburgh area continues to grow. Individuals from nearly 1,000 Catholic and Protestant churches have been provided with consultation. Over 3,500 names are in our database, primarily from the tri-state area. With the launch of our website, inquiries have been received from all 50 states.
By assisting faith communities to incorporate health and wholeness as a vital ministry of the Church, the Mercy Parish Nurse and Health Ministry Program is striving to enhance the mission of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.