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Sponsa Christi

New nursing order?

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Sponsa Christi    4
Sponsa Christi

I wonder who out there would actually consider joining me in starting a religious order of traditional nursing sisters (full habit) offering free hospice/palliative and respite care service (funded by donations)? I'm feeling called and believe this is so necessary now. It's early stages yet. Just wondering what others think and whether some would be interested. Of course, if God wants it, then it will be a hugely successful undertaking. Any thoughts?

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Luigi    3,347
Luigi

It sounds very similar to the Dominican sisters of Hawthorne. They serve cancer patients who have incurable cancer, which sounds pretty much like hospice care to me. I'd imagine there's a lot of palliative care involved with that, although I don't know it for a fact. And I don't know that they provide respite care to families or caretakers. But it would seem that the respite care would be a natural expansion of what they do already. 

I've never tried to found an order, but I've followed the progress of some newly founded groups, and there are just so many challenges and possible detours along the way. It seems more prudent to me to work with an existing order if possible, and expand or refocus the ministry. But as you say, if God wants it...

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Sponsa Christi    4
Sponsa Christi

Hello Luigi.

Yes, I do know the DSH. I did a vocation retreat with them once. They limit themselves to cancer patients, however. When they were founded, there was a real need to have care for cancer patients in particular. 

I like the work they do. In fact, I would love to have an extended visit with them to learn more about how they do their work on a more practical level. Funding, etc.

The Little Sisters of the Poor are another admirable group to learn from. 

There is also a group of Spanish sisters who do respite work. 

I agree that it is a lot easier to join with an already established group but at my age (53) no one would accept me. I would hope to accept those who are able of any age. We all have a purpose in God's loving eyes!   :)

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Francis Clare    630
Francis Clare

I don't know a lot (or hardly anything for that matter) about starting a new order, although one former nun from OLAM and then Charlotte did just that.  It's taken her a few years but I know she's got a few sisters with her now. Her charism is completely different, though.

IMHO just from reading this forum for a few years now, I would think there would be somewhat of an interest in founding such an order especially among those women who are past the seemingly arbitrary entrance limit of 35 years old or so.  But the kicker would be if they were trained nurses as well.  It's not easy to go back to nursing school or leave one's career to go back to school (not cheap.) Of the other orders founded by, ahem, more mature women (no slur intended) they just never sounded inspiring to me.  Perhaps I'm just shallow, but that's how it feels to me ---charisms, habits, Rule of Life, etc. never grabbed me.  Although I realize except for the charism the rest are pretty much externals.  

Do you need permission from your Arch/Bishop?  Do you have a Spiritual Director that you've discussed this with?

Good luck, keep us posted, and I'll pray for your intention.

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Sponsa Christi    4
Sponsa Christi

It would be ideal to have women who are already nurses but having nursing assistants or personal caregivers or others with experience in healthcare. It doesn't take long to train to be a nurse's aide. The Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne have their sisters train to be aides. We could also have sisters who work from our home as medical transcriptionists or medical biller/coders. I have also thought of having a team of sisters conduct caregiving classes for those who suddenly find themselves with the need of caring now for a loved one.

This Diocese has not had any new, or any traditional, orders for a long time. I'm not sure the bishop would even be interested, but if not then we would just have to go elsewhere. 

I am pondering names, too. Franciscans of the Mother of God or Sisters of St Pio. Still undecided. 

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Carmelite4christ    12
Carmelite4christ

I have  been a caregiver for the elderly for five years now. I work for an agency. Several years back, I helped the Benedictine sisters who cared for the elderly.  Even though my college background is in a different major. I love taking care of the aged. I think its a wonderful idea. May the holy spirit guide you in God's will! I love the little sisters of the poor  as well! They have the right idea... helping the elderly who are poor. :)

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Sponsa-Christi    730
Sponsa-Christi

Speaking as a canon lawyer, I'm wondering if it wouldn't actually be easier to find an established group and persuade them to make an exception to their age limit than it would be to start an entirely new community.

The vocation to be a nursing Sister is very different from a vocation to start a new community. There are a lot of things to worry about with respect to starting a new community that wouldn't even begin to occur to most people.

Also speaking as a consecrated virgin...being "too old" for one vocation is very rarely a good reason for taking on another, very different vocation. E.g., there is no age limit for consecrated virginity, and I'm happy when a woman who was called to be a CV all along finally realizes her vocation. However, in my personal experience, women who become CVs just because they were "too old" for religious life never really grasp the charism of the vocation or live out the vocation as fully as women for whom consecrated virginity was their "first choice."

So drawing a parallel, someone should really only think about starting a new community if they are very sure that they have been gifted with a charism which is not expressed in any established community (the only possible exception to this being if one already has a supportive bishop who is asking you to start a community).

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Sister Leticia    398
Sister Leticia

The hospice movement and palliative care are very strong in the UK, largely thanks to the vision and single-mindedness of Dame Cicely Saunders. Apparently she was a devout Anglican and did think of founding a new order, but realised that her call was instead to building up and expanding the hospice movement.

I hope you have - or will find - a trained, experienced spiritual director, who can help you discern whether your call from God is to build up and work for hospice/palliative care, or whether it is to found a new community. And bear in mind that founding a community would consume a great deal of energy and time (vocations promotion, formation including noviciate, finding accommodation, funding, supporters, study or training, people discerning in and out, all the canonical requirements etc) - quite apart from the work involved in setting up and developing a hospice!

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HollyDolly    6
HollyDolly

I think its a good idea.However I'm 61 and have no nurses training. I did take care of my late mother and father who were ill.Momma had a stroke and my dad had COPD. I don't know what diocese you live in, but maybe you could approach some community in your diocese  that might do similar work and ask the sisters if they might  need  lay volunteers to help them in their work. That way  if you can be a helper so to speak, you can find out if that is truly the apostolate you want to pursue.   Good luck to you. 

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KLeahRN    0
KLeahRN

I'm an RN & I'm 55.  I would be interested.  Perhaps a charism like you suggest and yet modeled after the Daughters of the Heart of Mary (except with the full habit)?  

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Maggyie    2,541
Maggyie

I think the correct way about this is to simply start doing that work which is in such desperate need. Start volunteering at nursing homes, or become a trained home health aide, advertise in your parish bulletin and ask for donations instead of charging people. Perhaps others will join you and then a community can take shape. But to start by figuring out a name etc is doing it backwards I think. I think of St Jeanne Jugan who had no plan of founding an order, she just saw what needed to be done and did it as a single lay Christian woman. Everything happened organically as the Spirit led her. 

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Nunsuch    388
Nunsuch
1 hour ago, Maggyie said:

I think the correct way about this is to simply start doing that work which is in such desperate need. Start volunteering at nursing homes, or become a trained home health aide, advertise in your parish bulletin and ask for donations instead of charging people. Perhaps others will join you and then a community can take shape. But to start by figuring out a name etc is doing it backwards I think. I think of St Jeanne Jugan who had no plan of founding an order, she just saw what needed to be done and did it as a single lay Christian woman. Everything happened organically as the Spirit led her. 

So true. And Jeanne Jugan was hardly alone in this approach to things. I think of so many founders who simply started doing the work--including many (like her) who have been canonized. 

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Antigonos    201
Antigonos
9 hours ago, Maggyie said:

I think the correct way about this is to simply start doing that work which is in such desperate need. Start volunteering at nursing homes, or become a trained home health aide, advertise in your parish bulletin and ask for donations instead of charging people. Perhaps others will join you and then a community can take shape. But to start by figuring out a name etc is doing it backwards I think. I think of St Jeanne Jugan who had no plan of founding an order, she just saw what needed to be done and did it as a single lay Christian woman. Everything happened organically as the Spirit led her. 

An excellent idea.  To be honest, I've been trying to stay out of this thread.  I'm 71, been a nurse/midwife for 50 years, and frankly, it became physically very much harder by the time I reached my mid-50s.  I can hold someone's hand, but moving them from bed to chair, or stretcher to bed, if they are inert, is almost impossible.  Nursing is physically very demanding work.

Studying a new field isn't easy either.  One's memory isn't like it was in one's 20s.

In Jewish Law, visiting the sick is a mitzvah [good deed or commandment].  Simply spending time, on a regular basis, with a shut-in, or running small errands for them, can be not only a great enjoyment for them but a real life-saver.  A great many elderly today have no family whatsoever to help them out.  A rabbi I know organized a "telephone chain": each person had to call two others every day just to be sure they were still alive.  Sounds dreadful that there should be a necessity for that, but it's reality.  A religious community, with vows and a Rule, doesn't need to be established for a great deal of good to be accomplished.  And if a group of similarly-inspired persons gather at regular intervals for prayer sessions [and possibly to share information that improves care], it maintains the motivation and momentum, IMO.

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