Putting more heart into the hands of others this Christmas
Many of us are blessed to experience the joy, expectation and love that Christmas brings. However, it can also be a lonely and distressing time, especially if you’re in hospital.
Hospitals are busy and bustling places, with doctors and nurses coming and going, machines beeping and buzzing and the constant noise of ambulances arriving with new patients. But if you or a loved one is a patient, lying in a bed, by yourself with no visitors, the days can seem endless, hope starts to fade, and it can be difficult to keep emotions at bay.
“Hospitals can be very lonely, and fear and anxiety often really trouble people while they’re here. As chaplains, we journey with them as God’s representative, so in those moments of darkness, they know they’re not alone,” says Abraham George, Chaplain at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
Parramatta Catholic Foundation’s Bishop’s Christmas Appeal is raising funds to help the 15 Catholic Care chaplains in our Diocese that provide care, comfort and support to people who are suffering. They minister to the sick in public hospitals and also visit people in prisons in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. They listen, connect, and endeavour to understand and comfort those who might otherwise feel abandoned.
Abraham has been a lay chaplain for more than a decade and finds the work transformative.
“I will never forget Lucy* a little girl diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Her family didn’t know what to do, except rely on God. We organised a baptism and prayed with her family. Remarkably, Lucy recovered, and they later visited with a handmade card that said, ‘Thank you for praying for me and supporting me and my family. Thank you for your visit and the spirit in which you organised my christening. We will never forget you. Miracles do happen’.”
Yvonne Turner is another chaplain ministering at Cumberland Hospital.
“Chaplaincy offers me the ability to use my faith to help others for the glory of God, with a human connection. I find it a great blessing to connect with somebody quite deeply.
“I’ve seen hope in the struggle in searching for God, and in the experiences of, ‘Why me?’ I’ve seen reframing, reconnection, and returning to one’s spiritual core. I’ve seen Jesus in these encounters, and I’m so grateful that He’s invited me and uses me in this ministry.”
The Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes and the Sick is St Camillus de Lellis. We are fortunate to have the Camillian Order in our Diocese who are devoted to caring for the sick, especially Fr Dado Haber MI who has been the chaplain at Blacktown Hospital since 2013.
“I am very happy and proud to say that I belong to the family of St Camillus, somebody who always reminded us to put more heart into the hands in caring for the sick,” he said.
“There are a good number of people who, because of their sickness, are led back to God. They realise God is more important than anyone else. The Westmead Hospital Precinct is one of the largest healthcare communities in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Camillian Order is present day and night, helping people. St Camillus taught that his spiritual sons must find Jesus in the sick and be Jesus to the sick.”
If you are interested in becoming a chaplain, or would like to donate to help our chaplains continue their ministry, please call (02) 8838 3482 or visit: yourcatholicfoundation.org.au/appeal-christmas
*For privacy, the girl’s name and image have been changed.