One of the Corporal Works of Mercy is to visit the sick. In her time, Catherine McAuley met this need for visitation of the sick and dying both in their homes and in hospitals. Today I am privileged to be continuing in the footsteps of our founding sisters, and sharing in the lives of the frail, elderly at Atawhai Mercy Assisi Home and Hospital.
In my role as Pastoral Care co-ordinator I walk alongside those in need of our care, with an open, listening heart, respecting those with other faith traditions and those with no religious affiliations. Each of us would have our own meaning for the words ‘pastoral’ or ‘spiritual’ because each of us are coming out of our own cultural, ethnic, family or religious background.
Here at Atawhai Assisi we aim to give holistic care to our residents and that means we attend not only to their physical and emotional needs but also their spiritual wellbeing.
Our residents are the ‘wisdom people’ of our time, and have much to offer as they share their life journey – their sorrows, and their joys, their hopes and their challenges for the future. I am humbled as I listen to their stories of great sacrifice for the sake of others, and for the huge contribution they have made over many years, to family, to church community and the wider community. When they come into residential care they don’t stop giving. They continue to be concerned for one another, sometimes making new friends with other residents, their families and staff.
Coming into residential care they may be faced with many questions, doubts and fears. During this transitional time the person needs to be allowed to tell their story to someone who really listens in a non-judgmental way, who is able to encourage and affirm the resident and most of all is able to resist from giving advice. There is healing in the telling, especially when one’s experiences are being listened to with head, ears and heart.
There are just so many graced filled moments in the day that makes this ministry special.
The Gospel challenges us to reflect “who is my neighbour?” In our willingness to walk alongside others we are changed and enriched by those we accompany.