Ministry in the maelstrom
Ministry in the maelstrom
*picture featured in this article taken before social distancing measures were necessary*
I came to St Elizabeth’s as the new lay chaplain in February, looking forward to new experiences and challenges, oblivious to the pandemic looming on the horizon, which would radically change daily life for people across the world, including in this peaceful corner of Hertfordshire.
I had been very impressed by all I had read about St Elizabeth’s, this pioneering foundation by the wonderful Daughters of the Cross, and first impressions confirmed that this really is a centre of excellence for the holistic care of children and adults with a wide variety of needs.
However, it is in this surreal time of virus-inflicted disruption and panic that I’ve experienced St Elizabeth’s truly coming into its own, as staff put the wellbeing of residents before all else, willing to leave the safety of their homes and put aside their family concerns, to ensure that our pupils, students and adult residents are safe and well. Our dedicated domestic, catering, nursing, teaching, and care staff are brilliant, not only ensuring that all physical needs are taken care of, but taking to heart the motto of the Daughters of the Cross to enable people to ‘live life to the full’, their concerns are also for the psychological and spiritual wellbeing of those who live here.
So, I have been given sets of green ‘scrubs’ to wear when I visit residents in their bungalows, chatting with them, listening to their concerns, praying with them, and taking them out for walks in our grounds to free them from feeling shut in. It has also been my privilege to spend time with staff, hearing of their fears for the health of their families and friends, their worries about money, shopping, travel and other effects of this pandemic on normal life. There are no clear answers at this unprecedented time of great uncertainty, but voicing and sharing concerns at least brings some comfort, and a sense of solidarity, trusting that we will get through this together.
St Elizabeth’s offers a beacon of hope to our troubled world, clearly showing that when people put care of others ahead of their own concerns; are willing to risk personal safely to ensure others are protected; can be constantly generous, patient and compassionate; staying upbeat and positive to instil a sense of calm and normality; then life can go on peacefully despite any restrictions. Only special people, who are highly committed, are able to do this day after day, so I salute all the staff of St Elizabeth’s, and on behalf of the residents and their families, say THANK YOU – all your efforts are greatly appreciated!