Getting outside my comfort zone

Pat Carew, Spiritual Development Chair, CWL Victoria Diocesan Council

Sandi Digras, Communications Chair for the Victoria Diocesan Council, wrote, “At the closing Mass of the 89th Catholic Women’s League, Victoria Diocesan Convention, Bishop Gary Gordon challenged all CWL members to ‘become shepherds’ and ‘take God’s work outside {your} church’. He suggested this work should take the form of ministering to the ‘frail elderly and lonely in our parish families’ and went on to encourage us to make sure at least 75% of our members enroll in the Pastoral Care Outreach training programs conducted by the Diocese. If we are to be the eyes, hands, and feet of Jesus on earth, we must examine what he wants us to do. This may put us outside our comfort zone in a substantial way.”

I am very uncomfortable visiting the sick or dying, as I have lost several of those I love over the years. But I must admit that sometimes something can happen that can change your point of view.

Several years ago a friend and I were planning on visiting a long-time friend and parishioner (of which parish?) in the hospital. I got cold feet at the last minute and wanted to wait until the next day. My friend quietly said, “Pat, there may not be a next day.”

Before the end of that afternoon, I was very glad I had changed my mind and went to visit! When we got to the hospital room our friend was comatose, but the nurse said that she might be able to hear us. As we sat and prayed and talked with her, another friend entered the room and joined in our conversation. It had been a grey and rainy day but as I sat listening to the talk around me, suddenly a ray of sunlight shone directly on our sick friend. I knew it was Our Lord come to take her home! Her breathing slowed and then stopped and I knew she had gone home with Him.

This was one of the most beautiful moments I had ever experienced. It changed my thinking about death. Before, I had been almost afraid when thinking about my own death. Now I can focus on being with our Heavenly Father, his Son and the Holy Spirit. I am also more comfortable visiting the sick.

To quote Sandi again, “We may not all be able to visit the sick, but we all have talents we can share. Let’s take up the Bishop’s challenge, and develop plans and ideas that will increase the shepherds in our parishes, not just within the CWL but for us all:

  • Try to have as many as possible trained in the Outreach program in your parish.
  • Volunteer at a hospital or extended care facility, or seek opportunities within your own parish for providing palliative care.

If neither of these ideas appeal to you, consider being a ‘prayer shepherd’, offering your rosaries and prayers for those who have the ability to accompany others.”

With this in mind, let us go in to the Fall full of ideas and plans to meet the Bishop’s challenge.