Weekly Reflection, Friday, September 17
By: Jeff Allende
For my entire church life, I recall watching fellow church members receiving support and love in more ways than I could count, not only from clergy, but from kind and thoughtful parishioners as well. I’d never heard of “Pastoral Care,” but witnessed this outreach often – calls being made to check on fellow congregants, casseroles appearing on doorsteps, flowers delivered to those unable to attend services, and the list goes on. It was a wonderful outpouring of care, but I wasn’t anywhere near needing such things nor did I have any idea how these amazing do-gooders knew what to do when. Unfortunately, I was unknowingly about to find my way on the receiving end of this wise and seemingly magical group of souls.
About 7 years ago, I was diagnosed with an aggressive, late-stage cancer and was told by the specialist I was seeing that I had only a few years to live and that I “needed to use this time to get my affairs in order.” Needless to say, this shook me to the core. I remember thinking, “who can help me get through this? My family, of course, but they will need support as well. My friends, but, again, who will support them?” And then it hit me: God and St. Mary’s. I was, like so many before me, enveloped into the fold of the church, prayed for, supported, and loved. Miraculously, with the help of a clinical trial and a long fight, I have been cancer free for five years. One of the best memories I have of those months is when I was offered a private prayer service for Page and me the day before my surgery. I felt truly blessed and was certain that God was with me and would be through my treatment.
A couple of years ago, I was given the opportunity to participate on a pastoral care team. I jumped at the opportunity, signed up for training and couldn’t wait to get started. I am so grateful to be part of a team giving back to our amazing church community, in the form of get well cards, happy birthday wishes, visiting parishioners unable to attend services, or delivering a meal for a family going through tough times. I am forever humbled by the warmth, depth of caring, and love that our St. Mary’s community seamlessly provides, without hesitation or fanfare.