My Parish Ministry by Sr Barbara Kenny RSC
As a Religious Sister of Charity my background has been as a Nurse/Midwife, practising in England, Nigeria and Scotland over some years.
For the past 17 years my Ministry has been as a Parish Visitor in a parish in the East End of London. Here I visit the sick, elderly and housebound members of the community, bringing Holy Communion, and giving time to each one, where they can share stories, health problems, cares and worries. I also try to keep them informed about what is happening in the life of the parish. At times, when I get back home, I feel like I’m carrying a weight on my shoulders after things I have heard and felt unable to help with. Then I might hear a voice saying to me that the weight you are carrying is what has been taken off that person as you listened to them.
During the period of Covid it was very hard for the people I visit not to have visits from me, but I tried to keep in touch by telephone. Over the past couple of years, times have been hard due to the rise in the cost of living. The struggle has been in making the decision to ‘heat or eat’ and often it was the latter.
Last December our English/Scottish Province received a share of a Bequest from our Generalate. Sisters were invited to request an amount to be used for needs in their ministry. I applied and was given a generous sum of money which was used to lighten the burden of several families over the Christmas period. I cannot tell you what joy this brought to everyone, especially one young family. Also, in January our Parish received gift cards from a major Supermarket, each to the value of £50, which really extended the help needed.
The Parish in which I minister runs a Food Bank twice a week, at which I volunteer. We have between 80 – 100 people attending each day. The food is provided from the Local Council food store and delivered to us. In recent months we find a reduction in the variety of food given, possibly due to less donations from Supermarkets. A variety of people of different nationalities attend – elderly, young parents, homeless and some people who are working but finding it hard to make ends meet. Some feel ashamed to have to come, but they are reassured that we understand their need. At times it can be quite challenging, dealing with so many people, but it is a privilege to serve their needs knowing something of the difficulties in their lives at this time.