By Barbara Morgan, Coordinator for Ministers of Care

So, what is mercy?

It is a natural, instinctive impulse to help that is a gift from God. All ministries are conduits of mercy, from God, through us, to those in need. 

Ministering to the sick is purely about mercy. It is all about healing. God is the Healer and we ministers are a mere shadow of His presence to those we visit who need just that—healing. In return for our merciful, ministerial interactions with the sick, we receive so many blessings in return. Call them encounters with the Holy Spirit, moments of God’s timing, or unsolicited fulfillment of what you need in order to be merciful. They are not just coincidence.

Be merciful to all.
— Wisdom 11:23

A Day in the Life of a Minister of Care:

Sentara Careplex - Hampton, VA. Just around the corner from our parish.

I was scheduled to go to Sentara Hampton Careplex as the Hospital Minister of Care of-the-day. My plan was to meet with Carol Dufresne, ICC Director of Human Concerns and advisor to our ministry, at 10:00 a.m. to plan for the next Sunday’s quarterly meeting of our ministry members. I woke up to a crescendo of rain at 58 degrees (following a frigid cold-snap with wintery mix for about 24-hours). I arrived at church to find Carol was stuck in traffic on I-64. She called and asked if we could meet at 3:00 p.m. So, I went into the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament to collect hosts for the patients I had to visit at the hospital. While I was in the Chapel the rain outside intensified to a pounding deluge. At first, I felt this sense of gloom and being trapped! But then I realized, with the statue of our Lord and Savior on the Cross hanging over me, that I was not trapped. I was safe, surrounded by this holy place, with the rain emotionally and spiritually cleansing me. I had that God-connection that we all yearn for. Eventually, the rain subsided and I left the chapel to run into Carol, coming through the front door of the church, joking, “Now, you don’t have to leave and come back. We can meet now!”

Eventually, I made it to the hospital with three patients to pray with, one to serve communion and six new Catholic admissions to “pre-screen” (which is when we ask for permission to serve and pray with them to fulfill HIPPA patient confidentiality law). The first patient was in ICU, awake and talking for the first time in about 10 days of unconsciousness on life-support. It is always a pure joy to see such healing and to be a part of it. The second patient was fast asleep and snoring. The third patient was in Dialysis, and so I talked and prayed a little with her niece. The fourth patient was discharged.  

Of the pre-screened patients, three asked that we just pray with them, and three agreed to be served communion, one of whom also asked for a Bible. So, I set off in search of a Bible and didn’t have to go too far. Around the corner from the patient’s room is a visitors’ lounge. I bent down to take a drink from the water fountain and my eyes rested on a table there on which was a Bible with a label on it that says (I am not making this up…..) "YOU MAY TAKE THIS." So I did, and I delivered it to the patient!

Sometimes we are the bearers of mercy and sometimes we are the recipients—either way, mercy is all around us!  We need only be open to the many ways that God is reaching out to and through us.

Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call; have pity on me and answer me.
— Psalm 27:B1

About our Ministers of Care

This ministry provides pastoral care to any Catholic patient at Sentara Careplex Hospital who has requested a pastoral visit. Each day a scheduled volunteer visits the hospital, brings Holy Communion, prays with the patient, and presents the patient with a prayer card prior to leaving.

To be a part of this ministry, contact Barbara Morgan.