On National Nurses Day, Sr. Veronica Jo Posekany reflects on her 44 years of ministering to patients

Sr. Veronica Jo Posekany, or VJ as her friends and Sisters call her, served as a nurse for over 45 years. For her, nursing was not just a career, it was a ministry. She has dedicated her life to caring for others, and even after retiring from the medical field, she continues to care for her fellow Notre Dame sisters.

Growing up on a farm, VJ learned the value of hard work and caring for others. Her pet sheep was diagnosed with lockjaw and she nursed it back to health. That experience ignited her passion for nursing.

After joining the Notre Dame Sisters, VJ trained to become an LPN. Becoming frustrated by the limitations of her degree, she went back to school and attended UNMC’s first RN associate degree program, completing it in 1972. She spent most of her career working on the 6 West Medical and Surgical Unit at University Hospital. It was there that she found her true calling—ministering to her patients.

VJ recognized the importance of a holistic approach to treatment and cared not just for her patients’ physical illnesses but also for their spiritual needs. She would often spend time praying with her patients and providing them with comfort and support. “Just listening to patients and being present with them was so important to them. Working the night shift, patients would often share things they hadn’t thought about during the day.  I heard more ‘confessions’ than a priest,” VJ said.

After 40.5 years on the 6 West unit, VJ filled in for another nurse on leave at the Specialty Infusion Center. She loved working with the patients there and decided to stay on for another 4 years.

Throughout her career, VJ had formed close relationships with her patients. Many of them returned to 6 West and the infusion center for treatment, and she was always happy to see them again. Her favorite part of her ministry was the people. “People are the most important to me,” she said. My ministry is a gift. I’ve had this wonderful gift for 46 years, and God has really led me through all of it.”

Even after retiring from the medical field, VJ continues to care for others. She now spends her time taking her fellow Notre Dame Sisters to their doctors’ appointments, managing their medications, and visiting them in the hospital. She is touched and inspired by the ways in which Sisters gracefully live their lives as they embrace some challenging health concerns.

For VJ, nursing may have been her career, but it was always her ministry. She recalls a reflection by R. Tagore that she feels encompasses her life, “I slept and dreamed that life was joy. I awoke and I saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”