For immediate release: August 30, 2017

AtlantiCare to say, “Farewell”
to Sister Mary Frances Kyle

Three weeks ago, Sister Mary Frances Kyle, SSJ, was sorting through papers when she found the prayer of St. Vincent DePaul that a dear friend, a Sister of Charity, had given her many years ago.

“Do the good that presents itself to be done,” the prayer opened.

The next day she got a call from the Sisters of St. Joseph asking her to consider being part of the new Welcome Center that the Sisters are opening in Camden. “They said, ‘We want you to be part of it,’” Sister remembered of the call. “’You are familiar with the City of Camden, having worked there for 14 years, and your knowledge of Spanish would be a valuable asset.’”

Sister Mary Frances, who has spent the last 17 years of her 33 years in hospital ministry caring for patients, staff and providers at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center (ARMC), remembers the call.  “It was so unexpected,” said Sister. “I was overwhelmed by the call. When I got home, there was the prayer, sitting on my bureau.”

“God lets us know he wants of us. We belong to him and not to ourselves. If He increases our work, He adds to our strength also,” continued the prayer.

“I thought, ‘I don’t have the youth or the health or the energy that I might need, but God will provide,’” reflected the 78-year-old Sister. “I called the Sisters the next day. I got voicemail and left a message: ‘My heart says yes, but my head needs more time to grasp this opportunity.’”

Sister’s last day at AtlantiCare will be Thursday, August 31. Staff will hold the last of several farewell parties they have held in her honor.

Sister Mary Frances takes the cake when it comes to caring for patients staff at AtlantiCare.Sister Mary Frances takes the cake when it comes to caring for patients staff at AtlantiCare.

Raised in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sister attended Little Flower High School and Chestnut Hill College, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Spanish at Millersville University, and her Clinical Pastoral Education Certification at the University of Pennsylvania.

She spent 14 years caring for patients and the community in Camden through her assignment by the Camden Diocese from 1986 to 2000 before the Diocese assigned her to AtlantiCare.

“One of the things I treasure the most and will miss are the special relationships I’ve developed,” said Sister. “From our patients and their families to every member of the ARMC family, each one has become a treasure to me.” Sister said that 17 years have given her the opportunity to get to know her co-workers beyond their hospital roles. “They’ve shared stories of their families and experiences. It has been a privilege to be part of their lives.”

“Our patients and their families have allowed me to accompany them during some of the most difficult and intense moments of their lives,” said Sister. She has ministered to patients and loved ones in all areas of the hospital.

“Faith comes into play in a special way in life-and-death situations,” explained Sister, who has cared for thousands of patients regardless of their faith or beliefs. “Finding God in the midst of suffering can be challenging. Seeing people survive terrible traumas is both gratifying and inspiring.”

“In the hospital, the doctors and nurses often stop to ask for a prayer,” said Sister. “It’s very touching to have a doctor say, ‘Would you say a prayer for me?’  To be in an environment where people can express themselves, regardless of their faith or cultural backgrounds, is very rewarding.”

While assigned to AtlantiCare, Sister lived at St. Joseph’s in Somers Point for 10 years and then moved on to Holy Trinity Convent in Margate for the last six years.  She loves to attend Sunday Mass at St. Frances Cabrini Church in Ocean City, where she played a key role in implementing a weekly Spanish Mass in the early 2000s. Sister said the Diocese of Camden has continued to provide for the spiritual needs of this immigrant community by assigning Spanish-speaking priests to this parish.

Sister has cared for patients, families, and parishioners beyond the walls of the hospital and the Church. “I try to keep in touch with home calls and house visits,” she said.  “Sometimes they’ll need clothes, so I’ll ask the staff who have children if they have clothes to spare,” she explained. “One family didn’t have any furniture. I asked one of our ER nurses and she said, ‘Absolutely, I can help with that!’”

“I’m grateful to have shared in the joys and sorrows of countless wonderful people at AtlantiCare,” said Sister. “I’ve had the opportunity to see how God works in their lives. To see a good outcome is wonderful. We see violence and tragic accidents.  We experience healing and courage. We witness kindness and compassion.”

“I’ve grown in my own spiritual life over the last 17 years,” she added. “I’ve seen God working in so many people’s lives. To be able to bond with staff and patients in a spirit of unity in the midst of diversity has been the greatest blessing. It feels like I’ve made a thousand friends.”

“Whether she was quietly talking with the parents of a patient in our Trauma Center’s Intensive Care Unit, celebrating the progress a premature baby was making in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or talking with providers and staff about a lifesaving brain surgery at our Neurosciences Institute,” Sister Mary Frances has quietly and lovingly made a difference for us and those we serve,” said Margaret Belfield, executive vice president and chief operating officer, AtlantiCare. “Her care has gone well beyond what medicine and clinical care can do to heal. She has been a great support to our physicians and staff.”

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus team says Farewell to Sister Mary Frances Kyle.AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus team says Farewell to Sister Mary Frances Kyle.

Prior to working more than three decades in hospital ministry, Sister taught in Catholic schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. “I taught all subjects, including Spanish, of course,” said Sister.

On the subject of where life will take her, Sister said, “As the prayer says, God will show me the way and companion me on the journey.”

Grateful for her 17 years at AtlantiCare, Sister moves on to Camden to work in a neighborhood Welcome Center, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania.

For more information about AtlantiCare, visit www.atlanticare.org, call 1-888-569-1000, or find AtlantiCare on Facebook.

Jennifer Tornetta, jennifer.tornetta@atlanticare.org
 (O) 609-569-1010, (C) 609-335-3446.

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AtlantiCare, a member of Geisinger, is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,500 employees and more than 900 physicians serve the community in more than 90 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.

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