Sister Jacquelyn McCarthy, CSJ

Her Happiness as a Sister of St. Joseph Complements her Love for Nursing
by Patricia J. O’Neill

CEOs and Administrators are busy people.  Sister Jacquelyn McCarthy is busier than most. As CEO and Administrator of Bethany Health Care Center, Framingham, MA, she is armed with a cell phone and a Blackberry so she can be reached 24/7, a responsibility her job necessitates. Sister Jacquelyn has been in her present position at Bethany for the past 14 years. A Sponsored Ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, Bethany is a multifaceted nursing facility, a residence, and a licensed outpatient clinic, dedicated to providing skilled nursing and rehabilitative care.

The oldest of five children of Mary and Jeremiah McCarthy, Sister Jacquelyn grew up in Brighton, MA, and attended St. Gabriel Elementary School. Sister Jacquelyn and her three sisters then went to Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA. The pull of a vocation to religious life grew during high school, not only for her, but also for her sister Patricia. Both chose to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph.

“When I first entered the novitiate, I knew the Sisters of St. Joseph was a teaching order, however, a few years later and much to my joy, Sister Therese Higgins assisted me in pursuing a nursing career. Sister Therese was wonderful. She helped me with the maze of paperwork required for acceptance into the nursing program. I entered a teaching community at 17 and 10 years later, I was studying to be a nurse.”

Sister Jacquelyn received a degree in nursing from Laboure College, Dorchester, MA, her bachelor’s degree in health care administration from St. Joseph College, North Windham, ME, as well as a master’s degree in health care administration at Framingham State College, Framingham, MA. Sister’s first few nursing assignments varied. She said, “I worked in orthopedics at Milton Hospital in Milton, MA, but found how much I enjoyed elder care while at Fontbonne Hall, Framingham, MA.” This fondness of working with the elderly brought her to Bethany.

Over the years, Sister Jacquelyn’s career path at Bethany varied. She began as a certified nursing assistant. After she completed her nursing education she worked as a floor nurse, a nursing supervisor, a manager of the Bethany clinic, and then Director of Nursing Services. In 1988, she changed direction for a short time. Sister Jacquelyn became a licensed nursing home administrator and accepted a position as administrator at Sancta Maria Nursing Facility, Cambridge, MA. She then served at Wingate at Brighton, MA, finally arriving at her current position at Bethany. Sister Jacquelyn’s dedication to her career does not go unnoticed. For example, in 2009 the Boston Business Journal honored Sister when she was named Health Care Champion and received the Administrator Award, which recognizes an individual who is changing the way health care organizations do business.

“...being able to come to work each day and experience the gratitude of the people we care for sustains me.”

Sister is well aware that the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph speaks of the Dear Neighbor. “Some people in the area surrounding Bethany have come here as residents or patients. Many improve and are well enough to go home. Relationship is at the heart of our mission, indeed,” she said. “The Bethany logo speaks to this,” she continued, “all residents, sisters and neighbors, deserve the best care possible, and that is what we provide.” She finds it a grace to be at the bedside of patients who are in their last moment of life and seeing their God for the first time. “Every experience is unique, but it is hard to put words around it.”

The best care at Bethany is offered in many ways. Sister Jacquelyn said, “We try to provide services for the residents right here at Bethany so that they don’t have to leave the building.” A dental clinic, rehab center, podiatric clinic, and an ophthalmology department are available. Bethany consistently scores above average in evaluations of the quality of skilled nursing facilities. Last year, it received a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. In February 2011, an article published in US News and World Report ranked Bethany in the top 18 nursing homes in the United

States. On September 22nd of this year, Bethany will celebrate fifty years in its present building, which opened in 1961.

Aside from her work at Bethany, Sister Jacquelyn also contributes to the health profession in other areas. She is on the Board of Directors of Notre Dame Long Term Care, Worcester, MA, and the American College of Health Care Administrators, Massachusetts Chapter. She is also a health care consultant in caring for the elderly at the National Religious Retirement Office, Washington, DC.

What sustains such a busy lady? Sister said, “Besides my own personal prayer life, being able to come to work each day and experience the gratitude of the people we care for sustains me. What we do is a team effort. Knowing we make a difference in seeing people through stages of illness elicits such gratitude in me.”

Her love for her work spills over. Her happiness as a Sister of St. Joseph complements her love for nursing. It is, quite simply, part and parcel of her being.†

- Patricia J. O’Neill is a freelance writer who lives in

Pictured above: Sister Jacquelyn with Sister Raynald Rogers.



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