An inspiration to those who care
Sr Rita Apura from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth is a chaplain for Catholic Care Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, who has been in pastoral care ministry for over seven years. She is currently based at Blacktown Hospital.
“There have been times where, because family members aren’t able to visit patients, patients will want to cling to you and ask you to stay a bit longer, because they have no one to talk to and no one to see them,” Sr Rita says.
“We try and do as much as we can to support them emotionally and spiritually, as well as reassuring their families that their loved ones are cared for.
“This is what we are called to do as chaplains. We are called to journey with people, meet them where they are and be Christ for that person.”
Sr Rita credits Mary as a model for her own visits to patients.
“Mother Mary was always there, through the joys and struggles of life,” she says.
“When Mary heard that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, even though she was pregnant herself, she went to visit her. She didn’t wait to be asked and stayed there for months.
“Most of the patients I visit are a bit like Elizabeth who were surprised and overjoyed at the visitation of Mary. The visits are often unique. They tell me how lucky they feel to be visited.
“Some people may not understand what a chaplain is or what they do, but I hope that my visits broaden their faith experience, even if it’s just being still and present with the patient and to listen to them as much as possible.
“I also gain comfort in reading the Scriptures, especially stories of women in Scripture and how God gives them support. It really shows me that I am not alone.”
This article was originally published in the 2022 Lent and Easter/Autumn 2022 edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can read the magazine here.