In memoriam: Genevieve Feyen of Pax Christi Franciscans

JACKSON – Genevieve “Gen” Feyen was born June 14, 1931 to Henry and Alma Feyen in Fond-du-lac, Wisconsin. While in seventh grade she was asked to play the piano, by the Sisters at Holy Rosary School, for the summer weekday Masses. She gathered Kathleen and classmates to get up early and sing in the choir. This went on for six long summers, which turned out God was preparing her for directing a choir.

Following in her aunt Emily’s footsteps, she become a student at St. Agnes School of Nursing in Fond-du-lac, graduating in 1952. She then moved to Milwaukee to work in a hospital there. She had an encounter with God, asking her to dedicate her life to Him.

In 1955, she went to St. Francis Center, which was a part of Pax Christi Franciscans in Greenwood, for one year of service to God. This was in the days of segregation, and the Black community was at the bottom of the list for everything, including health care. She was the nurse working with patients in the dispensary and making home visits. At the end of her year, she moved back to New Holstein, but was bored within a month so returned to Mississippi.

Besides nursing, she worked with Father Daniel Machesky, OFM and developed a skating project for teens. The students really learned to skate well, jumping, spinning, skating backwards and with partners. They learned so quickly that they formed a skating show, the “Centerama” and traveled around to other schools to perform.

Gen’s greatest concern was family centered care and patient teaching. She did home deliveries for many years, and St. Francis Center moved toward the idea of developing a birthing center. In 1964-65, she reluctantly went to school to become a nurse midwife. She graduated as a Certified Nurse-Midwife and being the first in the state of Mississippi. Her license was stamped #1.

In 1968 Gen moved to Jackson and became a member of Christ the King parish where she joined the choir, then became the organist. She loved this part of her life and worked with the choir for the early Mass.

While in Jackson, Gen’s first job was working at Hinds General Hospital. Then, in 1970 she joined the Nurse-Midwifery program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Gen supervised Nurse-Midwifery students in clinics, labor and delivery. She also supervised Nurse-Midwifery Assistants who made home visits to the mothers and babies for the infant’s first year of life. Later she taught a course at UMMC for nine young ladies who became OB technicians, and she delivered babies when she could in the hospital.

Her work continued in nursing in Family Centered Care in the hospital in 1973, seeing to it that the babies were taken out of the nursery and “roomed in” with their mothers. She taught daily, prenatal classes in the clinic, as mothers waited for their turn to be seen by the residents. She then began working as a Nurse-Midwife in the Prenatal and Women’s Health Clinics at the Mississippi State Board of Health in Jackson in 1977. In 1983 she was honored, receiving the Public Health Nurse Clinician of the Year in Mississippi, and then joined the staff at Rankin County Health Care Center. In 1993 she was awarded the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association’s Outstanding Mid-Level Clinician of the year. This also brought an end to her Nurse-Midwifery career.

Gen continued working with the choir at Christ the King parish. She and Grace Lee formed the Senior Swingers group. It was stated very clearly in the beginning that this was a group to have fun, not another working group. The seniors worked all their lives and it was time for them to relax a bit. She helped out at the school by working one on one with students. She worked many yard sales, raising money for the parish. She was a member of the liturgy team, King’s Workers, Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary and Senior Swingers.

On Feb. 24, 1991, she was presented with the L.W. Sampson Award from the Knights of Peter Claver for “Outstanding Leadership Service and Dedication in Christ the King Catholic Church and Community.”
Following her mother’s dreams of traveling, Gen visited Medjugorje, where her life was completely changed. She went from a reluctant disciple to an enthusiastic disciple.

Genevieve was the current president of Pax Christi Franciscans, a position she held many times. Under her direction, she formed the PCF associates with members in Greenwood and Jackson. She continued to be active in so many aspects of life it is hard to name them all, as she served 68 years in Mississippi.
Her last major project and accomplishment was writing a book on her life, “The Reluctant Disciple” which will go to print soon.

Genevieve passed on Nov. 8, 2023 and her funeral service was held at Christ the King Church in Jackson on Saturday, Dec. 2.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pax Christi Franciscans in her honor.