Nurse Jane Tobin: She who answered the call

Jane Tobin

Remembering Sr. Jane Lucile Tobin, OSF, RN, BSN, CHPN
October 31, 1944 – August 18, 2014

– by Rev. Linda Siddall, Mission Hospice & Home Care Spiritual Director

Our dear Jane’s passing saddened us beyond words. Still, countless words – articulate, compassionate, loving words – described her at an informal gathering with our staff, at a memorial mass with her family and faith community in Santa Maria, and at a final memorial mass for her family, friends, and colleagues in Redwood City.

A registered nurse and Franciscan nun, Jane’s service-oriented life exemplified the living spirit of Christ. She lived her faith through her care of family and friends, Franciscan nuns and associates, Cesar Chavez and the migrant workers, spiritual directees, and hospice patients, fulfilling a lifelong commitment to serving God wherever she saw the need – never forcing her beliefs on others but quietly, gently going about God’s work. As her brother said, “She saw a need and filled it, without waiting for approval.”

Jane graduated from Mercy Center’s three-year Spiritual Direction Formation Program just as I was beginning my first year there. She was generous in her joy and encouragement, as all who benefitted from her gentle presence – no matter how briefly – know well.

The anthem of spiritual directors worldwide is the song, “Sacred Is the Call,” by Sr. Suzanne Toolan, RSM:

Sacred is the call.
Awesome indeed the entrustment.
Tending the holy.
Tending the holy.

Each task Jane undertook was “tending the holy,” whether flushing a catheter or praying for those seeking comfort. As we carry on the healing work of hospice and palliative care, I pray that Jane’s memory inspires and guides us, and that we embody the healing presence that she demonstrated so well.


A nursing spirit – Jane’s staff profile, summer 2013

Jane Tobin exudes a quiet confidence – something she likely developed through years of providing patients with physical and spiritual comfort.

A former Catholic Sister, Jane is now an Associate of the Sisters of St Francis. Jane earned degrees in psychology and nursing, becoming a Certified Critical Care Nurse, and later, a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse. She spent several years working for an at-cost clinic for farmworkers in the Coachella Valley, where she saw the importance of preventative care and symptom relief. It was also her introduction to family-centered care.

Jane was able to combine her two callings – spirituality and medical care – while serving as a wellness coordinator for her fellow Franciscan Sisters in the Central Coast area. When she had the opportunity to work alongside hospice nurses who were caring for a terminally ill Sister, Jane says,
“it got me thinking that this way of caring for people and their loved ones is the way that I
want to practice nursing.”

In 2004, she discovered Mission Hospice, and says it was a “perfect fit, because of the holistic care offered and the close personal connections between all the people working with a patient and family. We really support one another to do the best work we can together for the people we serve. Spiritual, emotional and other kinds of support are integral components, along with physical care. There is time to be present to people and support them in a personalized way.”

As a nurse case manager for Mission Hospice, Jane creates and manages a care plan for each of her patients. Her goal, working with others on the team – including social workers, home health aides, doctors, volunteers, and chaplains – is to control symptoms and ensure that patients are as comfortable as possible.

Her positive attitude, compassionate demeanor, and background make her well-suited for this work.

Jane is particularly drawn to patients she calls “fiercely independent.” With a knowing smile, she says, “I can identify with people who like to make their own choices. If I can just be with them wherever they are, whatever they want to accept, then I can offer them choices.”

She understands that many hospice patients have a sense that they are losing control. “They are losing control of their bodies, but there are still choices they can make. How comfortable do they want to be? What kind of medicine do they want to try?”

Jane’s the first to acknowledge that her work can be emotionally intense. She balances this with prayer and with time outside. “For me, spending time in nature is a way of being in the moment, to be in the presence of all this wonder.”

Like so many other medical professionals at Mission Hospice, Jane truly feels that she’s found her home here. She shares with others on the staff the “very high ideals of wanting people to have the best kind of life they can – to be comfortable, to do things that are important to them.”

“I really love hospice. It feels like such a good fit. You spend so much time with the families, and you can make a big difference in their lives. It really helps families feel supported when they know we are here for them.”