Deaconess Parish Nurse Ministry Network Harnesses the Power of Story


Deaconess Parish Nurse Ministry Network Harnesses the Power of Story

Deaconess Parish Nurse Ministry Network harnessed the power of story at its May 12 event “Remembering Our History and Celebrating Our Mission,” held in St. Louis, Mo. Nearly 200 people gathered together to share and celebrate stories of healing from past to present, helping the ministry raise more than $17,000 by the end of the night.

Dating back to 1989, the program has more than 20 years experience helping faith communities improve the health of individuals and families. Thirty-one registered nurses provide wellness programs, spiritual support, health advocacy and health care guidance at approximately 38 sites in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

“It’s really important for us to remember our history,” says the Rev. Donna Smith-Pupillo, executive director. “We come from a lineage of women who served the church through caring and compassionate healing ministry. It’s important for us to connect to that and to be inspired to not only continue the healing work today but in the future."

Story has been a powerful way to connect with the mission of the network’s founders and to rejoice in present day successes.

One such story was shared by Jane Hahn, a parish nurse at St. Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis. Hahn was approached by a local Presbyterian minister in search of medicine for Lutete, a protected Congo refugee who arrived recently in the United States. Lutete’s medical coverage had run out, and he could not afford his two medications for high blood pressure.

Hahn was able to purchase a three-month supply of Lutete’s prescriptions for only $10. With the help of a caseworker who spoke French, she instructed Lutete about the medications and what to do in case of an emergency. Hahn shared that Lutete recently secured a janitorial job at Washington University and is being cared for at a nearby Family Care Center. 

She went on to share the story of Sandy, a mother with developmental disabilities and her son, Matt, who suffers from autism. After struggling with homelessness for the past two years, Matt and Sandy were able to secure permanent housing, along with furnishings and a pantry of food with Hahn’s help. Hahn now accompanies both Matt and Sandy to their doctor’s appointments and helps them with their medications.

“There is a healing power in the stories,” says Smith-Pupillo. “I have been awed by the stories which speak about the presence of God in our midst to bring health and wholeness. Most of the stories told by nurses are not about what they themselves are doing alone. Instead, it is more about what they, along with others, are doing to make a difference in the lives of those they touch.”