By Renée Villa, Brothers of Mercy Campus Director of Spiritual Care
“When I was hungry you fed me” (Matthew 25:35). Hunger is not always food related. We hunger for comfort, support and the presence of God. What comes to mind when you hear the words “Spiritual Care?” Since this is a Catholic Facility the idea of Spiritual Care can be quite formal. For some this can mean joining a church, handing down the faith of their family, receiving the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist or praying together. Spiritual Care encompasses all faiths and all denominations. It is being present with someone in their most difficult moments. A crucial part of Spiritual Care is being present without judgement. A person could be sharing pain, fear or something that causes them to feel regret or shame. Shame can be a mistake made in the past or the feelings that arise because they are afraid, weak and vulnerable. Spiritual care is allowing a person the space to express what they are feeling. It forms a bond of trust between those that share with those that listen. It is important to meet people where they are at in their faith journey. This type of presence provides comfort and helps a person to be reconciled, trusting that the outcome is in God’s hands.
At BOM, I believe Spiritual Care involves everyone on Campus. Officially, it is given by the staff of the spiritual care team; myself, the Brothers of Mercy, the Eucharistic ministers. Unofficially, it is given by everyone on staff who serves our residents; a medical staff that not only dispenses medication, but offers a kind word and a listening ear to a resident who may be having a tough day. The maintenance person who makes sure their room is safe, and the dietary person who prepares and serves a meal. All of these actions care for the “spirit” of each resident. And the “spirit” of each staff member or volunteer can be supported in the knowledge that they are caring for a very vulnerable population with dignity. “When I was hungry, you fed me”: meeting spiritual and physical needs; that is the fullness of Spiritual Care.