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Nursing the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual

by Jeanne Pyonk

I never had an inkling as a child or young adult that I would end up with such a rich faith-life. I was born in 1968 and raised in a Catholic home. I am a product of parochial education, ultimately graduating from Divine Child High School in Dearborn.

At my high school graduation, I was given an award for Excellence in Religion. The award was a complete surprise to me and, at that time, I didn't know why or how I was chosen.

I ultimately chose nursing as a career and have been practicing since 1991. I have worked as a RN and currently practice as a nurse practitioner in a Catholic healthcare system.

The beauty of nursing is that you do not only minister to the physical needs of the patient, but to their emotional and spiritual needs, as well. I would say that for years I did a good job of ministering to the physical and emotional needs of my patients; the spiritual needs were not something that I remember actively ministering to.

In fact, I really wasn't ministering to my own spiritual needs either. It wasn't until I experienced some serious and life-changing medical problems over the course of six years that I began to see that God had something more planned for me.

Despite my health concerns, I still didn't immediately re-invigorate my faith life as one would expect. However, the stress of living with the uncertainty of my health eventually led me back to Mass. Mass was the only place I could find peace. I rapidly grew to understand that I not only needed to be there, but I wanted to be there, in the presence of Christ.

Here, at Mass, is where my journey began, my renewed relationship with God and the Church.

One Sunday after Mass, the priest mentioned that a representative from Sacred Heart Major Seminary would be in the vestibule with information on opportunities for lay ministers in the Church. I think the Holy Spirit spoke to me that morning, encouraging me to check this out. The more information I collected, the more excited I became. After speaking to Sr. Jeanne, the chaplain at the hospital, and my uncle, Fr. Joe Hund, OFM, I was convinced that I was called to pursue a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies at the seminary.

I am still continuing this piece of my journey. Each class has helped me to love and grow in my faith. As a nurse practitioner, I encounter numerous patients in distressing situations. I am honored to not only minister to their physical and emotional needs, but I am feeling ever more confident in ministering to their spiritual needs, as well, for we are all children of God.

I am excited to finish my degree and to see where my journey will lead me. I am honored to not only identify myself in my personal, parish, and professional life as a nurse, but also as a student at Sacred Heart.

I often wondered if that award I was given on my high school graduation day was a sign from the Holy Spirit. It may have taken me some time to figure that out, but I think I finally have.

Jeanne Pyonk

Jeanne Pyonk has worked in the healthcare field since 1988. She volunteers as parish nurse at St.Thomas the Apostle Parish in Garden City. She is pursuing a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies with a concentration in health care.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.