Recently I was blessed with an inspiring experience. With another Passionist, I attended the dedication of Our Lady of Providence Parish Clinic. This may be the beginning of a new parish ministry in the Catholic Church.
The only free clinic in the state of New Jersey, it was built for those persons and families who have no health insurance of any kind and must therefore go to a hospital emergency room for any medical need. Most of those coming to this new clinic are recent immigrants, including some illegals.
In attendance that day were doctors, nurses, and associates in this health ministry. Then, there's the dynamic Director of the project, Dr. Anna Sweaney, formerly of the Argentine.
The clinic is housed in a trailer donated by the police department. Placed in a section of the parish parking lot, it's amazing how much modern medical equipment is found in its well-ordered space.
How did all this happen? This compassionate venture seems to have occurred spontaneously. One nurse seems to have contacted another nurse, who in turn contacted Dr. Sweaney. The pastor of Our Lady of Providence, Fr. James Vorwerk, SVD, offered sound advice and encouragement. His pastoral assistant, Sr. Grace Forker, SSJ, was there at every step of the way.
Quite a corps of medical personnel, both doctors and nurses, have offered to donate their time and expertise. Many others assisted in supplying everything from medical supplies to donated secretarial and carpentry work. It seems that Divine Providence assembled just the right combine of persons to make this dream possible.
All involved in this ministry of medical care work and pray for its success. Their dream is even greater. They want their idea to spread to other poor parishes. They hope that richer parishes will adopt poorer ones in the effort to provide this healing care.
I was very impressed by the quality and dedication of all the people involved. It's going to be interesting to see how the dream spreads. It's quite unusual to have a medical clinic attached to a Roman Catholic parish. And it's most needful for the people they hope to serve.
Kilian McGowan, C.P.
Kilian McGowan, C.P. was founding editor of the Passionists Compassion and edited the magazine until his death in July, 1998.top of page
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