St. Ann’s legacy of ministering to the sick

Peg Flemming spent decades caring for the sick as a dedicated nurse, when she retired that selflessness blossomed even more. The faithful servant of St. Ann Parish in DeBary saw a great need to help people suffering in and around her community. She gathered up fellow volunteers, most of whom are also retired, and answered Christ’s call.

The nursing ministry began in 2006 under Father Peter Henry and continues to thrive. Not only will the team provide blood pressure testing, nutritional education and exercise programs for seniors. They now accompany parishioners to doctor appointments and help them navigate the complicated health care system.

“We can care for each other in practical ways,” said Father Henry, who is now retired. “Nursing and nurturing are at the core of the Gospel. Jesus made care for the sick a fundamental path to the kingdom.” (Matt. 25)

Today Joanne Barnett, R.N. runs the program and maintains its legacy of corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Much like Flemming, Barnett could not resist what she describes as “a good calling” to lead the ministry. “I felt God was talking directly to me—that this was something I needed to give to my parish which I’ve been a member of since 1975. We are really people who bring body, mind, soul, and spirit together for them as an added support.”

The nurses help up to 50 patients per month, both young and old. They make home visits and work with local hospice agencies. “It’s related to stewardship,” explained Father Henry. “The gift of healing is given to everybody, if they are just willing to be present and to reach out. To me, one of the key aspects of Christian life is to be present to others. You don’t have to have instant cures. Many people are helped and supported by a caring person who is willing to listen. If that person has compassion and nursing skills, well then all the better and more powerful.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – January 3, 2019