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Lent Reflections 2016

Mercy Is All Around Us


Mercy Is All Around Us

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.



Mercy Is Much More Than Forgiveness

By Angela Delong, Volunteer - Morning Outreach Ministry

A Ministry of Mercy

Mercy is much more than forgiveness. It can be as simple as the smile or the kindness of a stranger.  Working in the Morning Outreach Ministry at Immaculate Conception gives our community many opportunities to experience mercy.  This ministry provides Hampton residents financial assistance with their utility payments when life throws them a curve.

Our volunteers for this ministry primarily work face to face with individuals who need financial assistance and for whom it is often very difficult to ask for help.  The appreciation we receive when we are able to help is very rewarding. To relieve their stress, if even for a moment, is not only mercy, but an instance of God’s grace.

Two Acts of Kindness

Serving in this ministry has allowed me to witness great acts of kindness.  Once, a gentleman was asking for help with his electric bill since he lost his job and was no longer was able to get assistance.  He was an older gentleman and overheard the story of another guest of our ministry who was not able to work because of caring for a sick child.  The older gentleman came back into the office after we assisted him and handed him $20.00 and said that he wished he could give him more, but it was all he had. 

In another case, we also have a very kind lady who offered on two separate occasions to pay the electric bill for someone in need. She preferred to remain anonymous and wanted no accolades. She did not want to meet those whom she helped. She was simply called by the Holy Spirit to pay their bills.  All she asks is that the person be very much in need and that their balance be more than the $75.00 that we are able to provide.  

Both of these people, to me, are the living expression of the compassion and love of God. The smile, tears (happy) and gratitude that the person receiving shows is so rewarding that it is a blessing for us.  Mercy for anyone is a gift of grace that is truly awesome!

In these challenging times, in this Year of Mercy, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves, this Lent, how we might follow the example of these two people, how might we extend love, consolation and mercy to those who need it most?

A Prayer

God of compassion and of love, help us to give in whatever way we can, in spite of our limitations and deficiencies, so that we can love and care for those who may need it most. Help us to be vessels of your mercy.