News & Events
May 19, 2017
Are we all shepherds?
At the closing Mass of the 89th Catholic Women’s League (CWL) Victoria Diocesan Convention, Bishop Gary Gordon challenged all CWL members to “become shepherds” and “take God’s work outside [your] church.” He suggested this work should take the form of ministering to the “frail elderly and lonely in our parish families,” and went on to encourage us to make sure at least “75% of our members enroll in the Pastoral Care Outreach training programs conducted by the Diocese.”
Now that we are back in our parishes and Councils we must do some deep soul-searching to see where the gaps are in our own outreach at the parish level.
- Does our parish have a home visiting team, and is that something CWL members wish to participate in?
- Does our parish have a nursing home/hospital palliative team that reaches out to those dying and alone, to offer comfort and accompaniment?
- Do we have a team who will drive those who want to be included in the social aspects of the CWL and parish functions, but are no longer able to drive themselves?
If we are to be the eyes, hands, and feet of Jesus on earth, we must examine what he wants us to do. This may put us outside our comfort zone in a substantial way.
I am one of those who find it uncomfortable to reach out to the sick and dying. I suspect I am not alone; perhaps some of us who have nursed ill or dying family members experience a similar emotion. Maybe we, ourselves, are in need of some kind of shepherding, or perhaps we are confronting our own illness, and that makes it difficult for us to offer support to others. If that is where you are, you can become a ‘prayer shepherd’, offering your rosaries and prayers for those who have the ability to accompany others.
On the other hand, there are some who are presently caring for family members, or who have done so, and are able and willing to give their time and talents to those who need their warm, smiling faces. All of us are shepherds, in spirit and in presence, and each of us does what we can to support this loving mission.
Many parishes are facing a large challenge. We are the ‘silver tsunami’, the aging members of the parish who will someday need those caring shepherds and smiling faces—soon, if we don’t already.
The CWL been asked by our Bishop to go forth and make shepherds of our Council members in whatever way we can. For example, Agnes Geiger, our CWL Provincial Spiritual Chair, developed a lovely palliative prayer and workshop she has generously given at many Councils, and at the Provincial Convention. Agnes is one woman who, when asked to write just one verse of a palliative prayer, went the extra mile and made herself available to others through her creativity.
We may not all be able to visit the sick, but we all have talents we can share. Let’s take up the Bishop’s challenge, and develop plans and ideas that will increase the shepherds in our parishes, not just within the CWL but for us all:
- Try to have as many as possible trained in the Outreach program in your parish.
- Volunteer at a hospital or extended care facility, or seek opportunities within your own parish for providing palliative care.