Just as Mary Aikenhead went out into the neighborhood or wherever the people were, so too our sisters go out to meet people “where they are at” as we say! That might mean meeting them in their grief, their sorrow or going through a difficult divorce. As Sr. Eva Bryan serves as Pastoral Associate at St. Joseph’s Parish, Long Beach she has created a new bereavement ministry. Eva says that this has been the most life-giving ministry for her. Currently Eva listens and is present to 11 new widows and one widower.
In preparation for this new ministry, Eva was trained as a Stephen Minister i.e. one who walks beside a person who is hurting. A Stephen Minister is a caring Christian friend who listens, cares, prays, supports and encourages. Eva is now training future Stephen Ministers in the parish. From Eva’s own life experience she says, “We all experience challenges in life-times when we could benefit from the support of a caring Christian friend. Stephen Ministers are ready to provide the emotional and spiritual care we need when faced with a crisis or a difficulty such as loss of a loved one, hospitalization, divorce or separation, spiritual crisis, incarceration unemployment and many more difficult situations. These ministers use their gifts and talents to serve the people of God. They are trained to help the families prepare the funeral liturgy as well as send cards, make telephone calls and visit the families throughout the following year so as to keep the family connected to their faith community. These Stephen Ministers play an important role in bringing hope and healing to hurting people. One of their spiritual guidelines is “bear one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.