Mission and Ministry Matters

(by Sister Valerie Sweeney, SND, Director of Mission and Ministry at Jennings)—You may know that Jennings is a Catholic organization, which is the foundation of our identity and mission. You may not be familiar with the document that helps to define and safeguard our Catholic mission.“The Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services” (ERDs) was written by the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Its purpose is to affirm the ethical standards that flow from the Catholic Church’s teaching about human dignity.  The ERDs also provide guidance on some specific moral issues facing Catholic health care. They provide patients, families, and caregivers with principles and guides for making decisions.

The ERDs have six main sections. In this article we will look at four of them that apply to our ministry at Jennings. (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 5)

Part 1: The Social Responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services

Catholic health care is guided by the following principles:

  • to promote human dignity
  • to care for the poor 
  • to contribute to the common good
  • to be responsible stewards of resources
  • to act in communion with the Catholic Church.

Part 2: The pastoral and spiritual responsibilities of Catholic Health Care

Catholic health care has the responsibility to treat those in need in a way that respects the human dignity and eternal destiny of all. Care is not limited to the physical; it also embraces the psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of the person. Thus pastoral care is an integral part of Catholic health care.

Part 3:  The caregiver/patient relationship

Mutual respect, trust, honesty, and confidentiality mark this relationship. The personal nature of care must not be lost even when a team of caregivers is involved in care. The dignity of the person is respected regardless of      health problem or social status, (e.g., race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, handicap, or source of payment). 

Part 5:  Issues in the care of the dying

Catholic health care faces death with the confidence of faith; it witnesses to the belief that God has created each person for eternal life. Effective pain management is critical in the appropriate care of the dying. 

Catholic health care avoids the use of futile or burdensome technology that offers no reasonable benefit to the patient. Euthanasia and physician-assisted dying are not permitted. The use of medical technologies is judged in light of the Christian meaning of life, suffering, and death. 

As a Catholic organization, Jennings takes pride in staying true to the teachings of the Church as we serve God’s people of all faith traditions and circumstances.




As we start the New Year, let’s take a look at the gift of laughter. It has been said that “laughter is the best medicine.” Have you ever wondered why? Helen Hunter, LSW has written an article on the benefits of laughter. She notes that laughter boosts the immune system and triggers the release of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain. During a laugh, respiration, heart rate and blood pressure temporarily rise. This causes oxygen to surge through the bloodstream that then results in lower blood pressure.

Laughter reduces pain and allows toleration of discomfort. Laughter reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Laughter relaxes the whole body, relieving tension and stress. It has been shown that following a good, hearty laugh, muscles in the body are relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterward.

Laughter also helps to create a positive mood. It allows the expression of happiness and the release of anxiety. Humor eases tension and is a great antidote to a stressful situation. Laughter is often seen as a temporary vacation from everyday problems, bringing us to a paradise in which worries do not exist. Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.

Here are some ways to bring more humor and laughter into your life:

Smile: Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling!

Count your blessings: Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter!

When you hear laughter, move toward it and ask “What’s funny?” People are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feel the humor in it.

Bring humor into conversations: Ask people: What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life? 

Laugh at yourself: Share your embarrassing moments.

Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them: Look for the humor in a bad situation, the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.

Pay attention to children and emulate them: They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly and laughing!!

Mission and Ministry Matters is a monthly contribution from Jennings’ Director of Mission and Ministry, Sister Valerie Sweeney, SND.


Mission and Ministry Matters

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In the days of the early American pioneers we see a wonderful example of community. Each night when the pioneers stopped to camp, they would “circle the wagons.” Circling the wagons created a safe space. Camp fires could be built in the middle of the circle. Children could play safely without fear of getting lost. [more…]

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Mission and Ministry Matters: February

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

At the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 the sport of canoe racing was added to the list of international competitions. The favorite team in the four-man canoe race was the United States team. One member of that team was a young man by the name of Bill Havens.
As the time for the Olympics neared, [more…]

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Mission and Ministry Matters: Reminiscing

Monday, October 5, 2015

Uncle Joe recalls the good old days when a Ford coupe was $500, gasoline cost 19 cents a gallon, a postage stamp was three cents, and penny candy was a treat. Grandma Millie tells stories about growing up on the farm and walking three miles to school every day… Everyone frequently reminisces and reviews life. [more…]

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Mission and Ministry Matters: The Selfie!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Have you ever taken a selfie? You know what a selfie is—the ability to use your iPhone or Smartphone to take your own picture, often with a famous person or in a significant place such as the Great Wall of China or the Lincoln Memorial. Taking selfies is different from me taking a picture of [more…]

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Mission and Ministry Matters: The “Blues”

Friday, May 1, 2015

The following article comes from Dr. Marie DiCowden, and was written especially for caregivers. She offers all of us some ways to battle the blues.
How many times have you had “the blues?” Feeling blue or down is often the result of a combination of things: physical and emotional fatigue, a sense of loss or hopelessness [more…]

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Mission and Ministry Matters: Echo of Life

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A son and his father were walking in the mountains. Suddenly, the son falls, hurts himself and screams: “Aaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!” To his surprise, he hears a voice somewhere in the mountain repeating: “Aaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!” Curious, he yells: “Who are you?” He receives the answer: “Who are you?” Angered at the response, he screams: “Coward!” He receives the [more…]

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Mission and Ministry Matters: Ten Commandments for Daily Living

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

As we begin the New Year, Sister Valerie Sweeney, SND, Director of Mission and Ministry at Jennings, shares the Ten Commandments for Daily Living that St. John XXIII wrote for himself. They reflect his depth, his simplicity, and his humility. It’s pretty amazing to realize that a pope who would become a saint took the time [more…]

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Mission and Ministry: Joy

Monday, December 1, 2014

Joy fills the air at this time of year—the joy of family celebrations; the joy of finding just the right gift for a family member or friend; the joy of anticipation and remembering. What is the source of our joy? For those of us who are Christians, it is rooted in our faith in Jesus. [more…]

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