“We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone… and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that create something.” – Sandra Day O’Connor
And so, reflecting on this, I begin my ministry each day as a chaplain at CatholicCare Social Services. I try to see that all those I reach out to are part of that tapestry – each a coloured thread and in between a golden thread connecting us to a much stronger, deeper, caring, and loving relationship with our God.
I have been working at CatholicCare since 2014. In my role I aim to be a presence to others, to listen with respect, to be non-judgemental, to be confidential and caring and to be with people in their times of joy as well as their times of pain. During the past six years, I have supported both staff and clients. No two days are ever the same. It is a ministry that is interesting, life-giving, unpredictable and at times challenging but it also brings many blessings. These challenges and blessings have brought me and some of those I reach out to on behalf of CatholicCare, to a much deeper and closer relationship with God.
The time I spend with staff is so important. I begin each day walking around the office simply to say hello to all. If they have time to engage in some way, we have a chat or a chuckle about what is happening at that time. I try to pick up on the atmosphere in general to gauge how their day is starting out. This may lead me to make further contact by sending an email to an individual or group perhaps with a prayer attached or a funny little memo to brighten their day.
In addition, my time is spent attending funerals, visiting hospitals and nursing homes and people in their own homes, accompanying when asked to medical appointments or solicitors, contacting St Vincent de Paul or other welfare agencies when extra support is needed. As well, I am a member of a couple of Diocesan Committees and so attend these meetings on a regular basis.
Because of the challenges, and therefore changes we are all facing in this time of COVID-19, some of my day-to-day ministries have gone from face-to-face visits to making contact by phone and attending Zoom meetings.
As I write, I have paused to look at a poster that hangs on my office wall. There are three gorgeous meerkats all standing tall and looking out in different directions. Underneath there are words with the heading: “Four Beautiful Thoughts of Life.”
- Look back and Get Experience
- Look forward and See Hope
- Look around and Find Reality
- Look within and Find Yourself
This poster has hung on my wall for a couple of years and little did I know how much it would speak to and touch not only me but those who have come into my office during these uncertain times.
Another poster I have on the wall is one of Jesus standing and knocking at a door. It has the words: “I stand at the door and knock; if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come into their house…” (Rev.3:20). I do my best to be a presence to all those who knock on my door by welcoming them into a place where they can just be, talk, cry, vent, pray or even have time out alone if needed.
Then there is the one of a young and very handsome Jesus fitting in with and relating more with young people in today’s world. I often have conversations with staff, initiated by them, about this man we call Jesus and how they relate to this picture because he “looks” human and so much more approachable.
Through my ministry at CatholicCare, I have listened to people from all walks of life and from various faith backgrounds, some who believe and others who do not – or so they say!
These past six years have been a broadening and rewarding experience for me, one that opens me, and others, to deep, unchartered waters.
With thanks to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.