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Jul 13
A support for the nursing community

​At the end of June, the Canadian chapter of the National Association of Catholic Nurses officially launched, with a Mass at the Newman Centre in Toronto. Below, President-Elect Helen McGee – a psychiatric nurse and Advanced Practice Clinical Leader – explains the organization's mission and why this type of support is needed for Canadian nurses. Her opinions do not represent those of her employer.

 1. What is the association's mission?

The association supports and strengthens the vocation of nurses and other health professionals within the apostolic tradition of the Catholic Church. It invites health practitioners to anchor their personal lives and professional practice in the Word, nourished through the sacraments, and in witness to Christ – bearing testimony to Him by aligning their lives and practice with Catholic teaching.

 2. How does membership benefit Canadian Catholic nurses?

Our association links Canadian health professionals with support and resources that promote our mission. Members may also become actively involved in affirming Catholic moral teaching with us through service, education, research, member formation, public discourse, or development and fundraising.  

3. Why is fellowship important for Catholic nurses in Canada at this time?

It is always important to integrate our Catholic identity, prayer and sacramental life with moral challenges in professional practice. Recent developments, such as legalizing assisted suicide in Canada, present urgent challenges in clinical and academic settings. Catholic health professionals need safe spaces and support to deal with their current isolation and moral distress.  

4. How has the battle over conscience rights impacted nurses?

Catholic nurses need to promote patients' health and preserve life when confronted with practices that are intended to terminate life. The current battle over conscience rights shows that we need the support of colleagues, prayer and participation in the sacraments to effectively navigate academic and clinical settings. 

5. 
How has the nursing field changed for Catholic practitioners– and how does the association respond to these changes?

Nursing practice always involves moral issues but recent requirements to participate in or refer patients for medically induced death challenged us to contribute to public discourse from a Catholic perspective through writing, speaking and participation in the legislative process. Our association supports members as they develop effective strategies to achieve accommodation of their moral decisions and continue to care for patients in the context of legal but morally controversial procedures.

For more information on NACN-Canada, or to become a member, email nacn.canada@gmail.com

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