Following accident, alumna Jane Lord discovers a renewed call to service.
By Laura Schreiner
Twenty years ago, Jane Lord, A.D.N., ’88, could not
have imagined how painful her spiritual journey would be. But, even in the
midst of her struggles, she never lost sight of her purpose.
A woman of strong faith, Lord has spent her life
working to fulfill God’s plans. After graduating from Stritch, she worked as a
triage nurse in the Milwaukee area. In 1991, she moved to Beaver Dam and began
working in hospice nursing.
“It takes a very special kind of person to work in
hospice care,” said Lord’s daughter, Kelly Dries, M.S.N., ’03, who is the newly
appointed dean of the Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing and attributes much of
her passion for nursing to her mother’s lifelong example of compassion.
Lord demonstrated this compassion through hospice
visits where she spent a great deal of time with individuals nearing the end of
their lives. She provided health care to patients and gave solace and comfort
to the grieving families through her faith and spirituality.
Although no one knew it at the time, Lord was about
to prove just how remarkable her spirit was.
In 1994, Lord was driving to a hospice patient’s
house in Beaver Dam when an 18-wheel semitrailer truck sped through a stop sign
at more than 65 miles per hour and broadsided her car.
Lord’s vehicle was crushed, and she suffered devastating
physical injuries, including structural damage, torn ligaments, and multiple
internal injuries. Her soul and sense of purpose, however, only grew stronger.
“At that moment, my nursing career as I knew it
ended, but my spirituality soared!” Lord said.
Even while bedridden during her recovery, Lord never
felt sorry for herself or gave up. Since she was not able to do any physical
work, she began to challenge herself intellectually. Lord took classes to learn
both sign language and Spanish so that she might serve others in a different
“She has always had a sense of purpose,” Dries said.
That sense never wavered, even during her painful
physical rehabilitation. Through hard work and strength of spirit, Lord made
great progress in her recovery.
“I am convinced my strength came from the Holy
Spirit,” she said.
Lord also knew, however, that she would never be
able to return to the physical demands of hospice nursing. Instead of giving up
the career that she loved, she sought new ways to use her medical skills to help
others in the next phase of her life.
“Always remember, God is calling each one of us on a
unique journey,” Lord said. “We all have a specific mission in life.”
In 1995, only one year after her accident, Lord became
involved with Stephen Ministries, an organization that trains laypeople to
counsel and support members of their congregations and communities. The
following year, she graduated from the parish nursing program at Marquette
University and became the first parish nurse in Beaver Dam.
As a parish nurse, Lord cared for the physical,
mental, and spiritual health of many people. She advocated for health promotion
and counseled individuals with specific ailments.
“I may never again be able to be a nurse and lift
people physically,” Lord said. “But now I can lift them spiritually.”
In May 2011, Lord found a new sense of fulfillment
in her own spiritual journey as she became a covenanted School Sisters of Notre
Dame (SSND) associate, which calls her to participate in the charism and spirit
of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. As a layperson, she considers it a very
privileged distinction to share in the Sisters’ spirituality and educational
nearly three years, Lord worked closely with her mentor, Sister Joan Emily
Kaul, and studied the philosophy and rules of the Sisters before she could make
her commitment as an associate. During the preparation, Lord also attended
meetings and workshops and engaged in deep spiritual reflection.
In the 18 years since her accident, Lord has
undergone 23 surgeries, with another scheduled for December 2012.
Yet she continues to find new ways to serve and is
active with Stephen Ministries, Christian Life Community, and St. Vincent
is proud of her mother’s recovery, perseverance, and commitment to service. She
wants Lord’s story to inspire people to carry out God’s work in their own
matter what capacity, people can refocus their energies and be able to serve
the Lord to meet the needs of His people. It may just look a little different,”
This article appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Stritch Magazine.