blank-sm“Take care of my sheep” (John 21,16). We are called, by our Baptism, to care for one another. As we journey through life, there are ups and downs, a normal rhythm of grace and being our human self. Our parish is blessed to have the beginnings of Stephen Ministry, a distinctly Christian ministry. Ten of your fellow parishioners will have completed 50 hours of training in areas such as compassionate listening, confidentiality, being trustworthy, and helping others. Pope Francis said “Like St. Francis of Assisi, all of us Christians are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, as well as its entire people” (30 Days of Joy of the Gospel, pg. 36).

DSC_0107-edit10 Stephen Ministers will be commissioned at St. John the Evangelist on May 15, 2016. After that event and blessing, it will be time to actively begin caring for one another as Care Givers. A good question to ask is: who would be a “Care Receiver”? The answer is anyone who is hurting and could benefit by having someone walk with them during a difficult period on their journey to Heaven. Are YOU? Or do you know of anyone in St. John’s parish community who is dealing with losing a loved one, going through divorce, unsure of life direction, family frustrations, job loss, exhausted from caring for another, enduring chronic sickness, lack of self worth, changes in life due to age challenges or retirement, health disabilities, or is in need of spiritual accompaniment? This list is not exhaustive. This is now the time that we as a parish can and need to identify those in need of care from a Stephen Minister.

Don’t suffer and struggle in silence. Reap the benefits of the Stephen Ministry. Some people find it hard to acknowledge they need help. In fact, however, realizing help is needed during various life transitions and challenges shows strength, humility, sharing and leaning on a fellow Catholic. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Rom 12, 15) There is great benefit in walking with an objective person who might be of help as a confidential, active listening and compassionate caregiver. We are called to care for one another and this also means inviting and allowing another to walk with us. “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.” (Ps. 55, 22) Care Givers are Christ’s hands and ears!

You may be harboring some hesitancy about coming forward with your request for help because of thoughts such as “is my problem going to be known around the Parish? “Will my story be kept confidential?” Be comforted in knowing that confidentiality is an essential component of the entire Stephen Ministry program. We can assure you that everything that takes place between the Care Giver and the Care Receiver during their visits is held totally confidential (just between them.) The concept of confidentially has been weaved throughout all our classes. We will share more on confidentially in next week’s bulletin, as well as providing additional information on the referral process.

If you or someone you know needs a Care Giver or to find out more about this ministry, contact the Parish Center @ 517-784-0553 and a Stephen Leader will contact you.

We have eager caring Ministers to walk with you!!! Remember, Stephen Ministry is all about fulfilling the mandate of Christ “encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thes, 5,11). It is the “spiritual accompaniment” that Pope Francis has called us to do for each of God’s children.
Barb and Cathy, Stephen Leaders