Michelle O’Rourke is a registered nurse with an extensive background in Emergency Nursing, Parish Nursing, and Hospice Palliative Care.  She also holds a Master’s in Pastoral Ministry and enjoyed many years in parish ministry and diocesan leadership, while helping to develop a national education program for training Parish Nurses.

Thesis work for her graduate degree reflected her interest in spirituality and palliative care and was subsequently published. Befriending Death:  Henri Nouwen and a Spirituality of Dying has sold over 6,500 copies worldwide.  Studying Henri’s life and writings impacted her deeply, both personally and professionally, which led to her second book, Embracing the End of Life:  Help for Those Who Accompany the Dying, co-authored by Eugene Dufour.  In 2020 she released her third book, Healthy Caregiving:  Perspectives for Caring Professionals in company with Henri J. M. Nouwen.  

A highlight of her career was being chosen to oversee the design and development of a ten-bed hospice residence.  She continued to serve in a shared role as the Program Coordinator for both the Chatham-Kent Hospice and the Palliative Care and Oncology Departments at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, until her retirement.  She now has more time to focus on what she truly enjoys – speaking, writing, consulting and self-care!  Her areas of focus include palliative care, resilience, and caregiving.

Michelle is currently on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Palliative Care Nursing Association, and is also a Trustee with the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust.  She is the mother of four, and gramma of Ollie.  She and her husband Tom live in Chatham, Ontario, and enjoy travelling and spending time with family and friends.


Palliative Care Nursing Leadership Award – Canadian Palliative Care Nursing Association – December 2021

Toronto Star Nightingale Awards – Honourable Mention and presentation, May 2016

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Tri-Board Award of Excellence – Mission/Staff Category – November 2013

Catholic Press Association (of North America):

First place finish in the Church Professional category, and Second Place finish in the Healing and Self-Help category for Healthy Caregiving:  Perspectives for Caring Professionals in Company with Henri J.M. Nouwen, June 2021

First place finish in the Pastoral Ministry category for Embracing the End of Life:  Help for Those Who Accompany the Dying, June 2013

One of 100 graduates of Assumption University, Windsor ON, honoured with Alumni of the Century, Sept. 2012