When asked to reflect on an important woman in her life, Sr. Diane Hay, OSF-T, thought immediately of her dear friend and mentor, Sr. Rita Mary Wasserman, RSM.
“It was a beautiful way of thinking of my friend,” Sr. Diane shares. “I have tears of gratitude in my eyes.”
In celebration of Women’s History Month and to honor those women who have helped to shape and define our ministry, women were asked to reflect on their careers with us as well as fellow women whose leadership and guidance they valued most.
Sr. Diane started serving as a chaplain for Mercy Health – Willard Hospital in 2006. Coming from a long career in Catholic education, Sr. Diane trained under Sr. Rita Mary after transitioning into health care.
During her first years, Sr. Diane spent most of her time visiting patients, attending to traumas in the emergency room and being present for those families during their times of need and grief. As she grew in her role as chaplain, Sr. Diane was asked to participate in other areas such as our employee engagement committee, ethics committee and the Willard area ministerial association.
In addition to providing comfort at the bedside, Sr. Diane is a source of prayers and solace for our Willard team, especially during difficult times, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic or tragic national events, as well as “any other times that it seems our associates may be feeling overwhelmed with world or local events.”
Now a member of the ministry for 17 years, Sr. Diane continues to be a source of comfort and support for all who work or seek care at Willard Hospital. And when she reflects on the support she has received over the years, her thoughts immediately focus on Sr. Rita Mary.
“Hands down, the person who was my mentor, my teacher, my friend has been and is Sr. Rita Mary Wasserman, RSM,” Sr. Diana shares. “I daily observed her gentle ways with patients and families. I think she saw something in me. She would tell me things that helped in my ‘formation.’ She was never afraid to step outside the box when it came to doing something for the good of patients or their families. One thing I always treasure was her attention to the dying and their families. I often saw her give a simple glass of water to grieving families – no words necessary. What a comfort a simple glass of water is at those times.”
Sr. Diane notes that she still channels her inner Sr. Rita Mary during her work as chaplain. She is forever grateful for not only her mentor’s guidance but also for Sr. Rita Mary’s trust in her abilities.
And she can’t help but smile when she thinks of the time the two of them snuck onto the construction site for the new Willard Hospital to bury a Catherine McAuley medal.
“Thank God the ground was SO hard, we couldn’t bury it,” she recalls. “The next day, Sr. happened to mention to the foreman what we tried to do. He suggested a different spot, under the main elevators, instead of where we were going to put it – in the middle of the parking lot!”
Sr. Diane has spent nearly two decades impacting the lives of those in the Willard community – both patients as well as our team members. And she is thankful every day for the guiding hand of her mentor who helped give her the wings she needed to be such a loved and respected member of the Willard community.
“Rita Mary, you have made such a huge difference in my life. You took me under your wing, walked with me, were patient with me, taught me a love for Catherine McAuley and the ministry of your Sr. s. I am a better chaplain because of you. God bless you, my friend.”
Read more stories celebrating our team members during Women’s History Month.
Also, learn more about our Mission at Mercy Health.