Marian Helper Magazine Winter 2021-22

“W hat do we do with the gifts and talents God gives us?” Donna Morrone, RN, of Chicago has focused on that question throughout her adult life. Donna’s own gifts, talents, and education led her to be a healer; her heart, open to God’s prompt- ings, led her to the hospital where she has worked since the late 1970s. A devout Catholic, Donna attended St. Xavier College and, during her student years, worked at St. Francis Hospital in her hometown of Blue Island, Illinois. It was assumed that she would become a full-time nurse at St. Francis after graduating in 1975. Donna, however, dis- cerned a calling to work with underserved populations in an urban setting. While doing an independent clinical rotation at a large secular university hospital, Donna realized, “This is where I’m supposed to be.” It may seem that a faithful Catholic would feel out of place working in secular health care, but that has not been Donna’s experience. Donna’s faith is very relevant to her job; it has provided strength and meaning, not only for her, but to her patients, as well. While still a young nurse, Donna faced the AIDS epidemic. She recalls one patient who, noticing the cross Donna wore around her neck, asked if she was Catholic. When Donna said yes, the man told her, “I used to be Catholic.” He then confided in her some of the sins that had brought him away from the Church and asked, “Do you think God will forgive me?” “Of course He will,” Donna said. “You just opened up. I think He has already forgiven you.” They said the Lord’s Prayer together, and Donna noticed a change in him — a new serenity — that lasted throughout later visits. “I couldn’t cure his AIDS, but praying with him was a healing moment,” she says. “Hopefully it was part of his peaceful transition to eternal life.” Today, Donna’s work involves calling patients after sur- gery to assess outcomes and quality of care. The countless conversations Donna has had over the years with patients of diverse backgrounds and circumstances have taught her that “most people are very spiritual.” It is not unusual for one of these phone calls to end with “God bless you” and a promise of prayer on both sides. Donna often prays a Rosary for patients on her way home from work. In her colleagues as well, Donna finds opportunities to share thoughts about faith and to be uplifted by the good- 4 M arian H elper • W inter 2021-22 • marian . org A call to heal, a call to serve By Marian Friedrichs D onna M orrone M arian H elpers in A ction