“Her presence brings Christ’s Presence to staff and patients.”
This one-sentence summary from a nomination for the Saint Damien Molokai award through the Diocese of San Bernardino encapsulates why Sister Mary Jo Piccione, SP, a native of Beech Grove, received the award in early October.
The award is for those who provide spiritual care in the healthcare setting. This is the first year the award has been given and Sister Mary Jo was nominated by pastors, priests, doctors, nurses and volunteers.
Described by John, a husband whose wife died in ICU, “Sister’s genuine display and example of God’s love, tenderness and compassion, touched my heart so deeply that I decided to volunteer at the hospital.”
Sister Mary Jo provides pastoral care to the sick and dying irrespective of economic, education, social and religious standing.
Summed up by Dr. Stephen Damiani, a Public Health Physician, “Sister Mary Jo is aligned with Father Damien in her total immersion in her ministry at St. Mary’s Hospital as ‘Cultural Competency.’ She has a calming and comforting presence at that very crucial and vulnerable moment for the sick and dying.”
Sister Mary Jo ministers as a Chaplain at Providence-Saint Mary’s Medical Center in Apple Valley, CA. The Indianapolis native has ministered at the center for 10 years.
In her reaction to receiving the honor, Sister Mary Jo said, “I was surprised, honored and humbled.
“I am so grateful to all those I have had the privilege to meet in this ministry of hope and healing,” Sister Mary Jo continued. “I have been blessed with many sacred encounters as I visit the patients, their families and our staff. I thank God for taking me on this journey of ministry in loving life and healing hope.”
The award is given to any chaplain who distinguishes themselves by providing compassionate and dedicated spiritual care to the dying. She received the award at the celebration of the Diocese of San Bernardino’s White Mass Awards Reception on Oct. 13, with Bishop Gerald Barnes celebrating the Mass and presenting the awards to the nominated.
“Bishop Gerald Barnes is our compassionate spiritual leader,” Sister Mary Jo said. “God has surrounded me in a very special way with a loving family, friends and Community of the Sisters of Providence.”
As one volunteer wrote, “Sister Mary Jo will go out of her way to make sure people are taken care of with respect and dignity.”
Pastor Steve, a fellow Chaplain, also wrote, “Being a chaplain is not a job she performs. It is who she is.”