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Sister Judy Garbaccio

Sister Judy is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Sister Judy graduated from Mount Saint Dominic Academy, studied chemistry and pre-medicine at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, and received her R.N. from St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in Paterson.

Sister Judy’s first mission assignment was at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Philadelphia, where she served as Nursery Supervisor. In 1960, she began ministry at Holy Family Hospital in Berekum, Ghana, where she was a Nursing Arts Instructor and Ward Supervisor for 2 years.

Sister Judy went on to spend 11 years at Virika Hospital, Fort Portal, Uganda, where she directed the Nursing Service, and was an operating room and ward supervisor as well as a nursing tutor. During this time, she worked with Uganda’s Ministry of Health to improve health conditions, and became Senior Nursing Officer at Uganda’s government hospital. She also served as our Formation Coordinator.

She reflects, “My companions along the way have been many – nurses, doctors, villagers, professional people, the sick, the healthy, the strong, the weak. Together we traveled, each sharing the others’ gifts and burdens.”

After returning to the U.S. in 1974 and receiving her B.S.N. from St. Louis University, Sister Judy began a new mission in Kenya. She served at Kyeni Hospital for a short time, then at Nangina Hospital for nearly 3 years as Director of Nursing Service and Ward Supervisor. In 1983, she went back to Uganda, where she organized community-based health care projects in the Mbarara Diocese. In the early 1990’s, she became District Formation Coordinator in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. She repatriated to the U.S. in 1995.

She says, “In Africa, to be a healing presence meant to serve in hospitals, schools of nursing, and a community-based health care project…then I came to a fork in the road. The branch that beckoned was quite different.”

Sister Judy pursued her interest in spiritual direction and retreat work, taking classes at La Salle University in Philadelphia, and at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA. She is active in the Church Ministry Institute of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a three-year certificate program for laypeople that she helped to develop. She also is involved with spiritual counseling.

November 15, 2010