Saint Cecilia CARES is a home visitation program with ministers who visit the homes of the sick, isolated, and needy members of our parish and the surrounding community. Through the gift of compassionate listening, they provide pastoral presence, emotional support, and Holy Communion if requested. Parishioners who are interested in this ministry should have the desire to serve others through compassionate support to the most vulnerable. They should also be grounded in their faith and feel a call to share one’s gifts through service. Participation in this ministry requires completion of a six-week training session in Pastoral Care to the Sick and Homebound. Since many of our visits are with the elderly, an annual CORI check is also required. Participants are matched with someone in need for a one-hour visit on a consistent basis (weekly or bi-weekly). In addition, there are monthly support group meetings for sharing and support. Some record keeping is also required.
The parishioners of Saint Cecilia have responded to the call to discipleship for decades through their committed outreach to Boston’s most vulnerable and compassionate support of their fellow parishioners.
In the winter of 2013 the Parish Pastoral Council resolved to make expanded pastoral care one of the three cornerstones of their strategic plan. This goal was tied to the awareness of the growing number of those isolated, aging, and homebound members of the parish in desperate need of consistent pastoral support and compassionate advocacy. A staff position of Coordinator of Pastoral Outreach was created to expand the dedicated team assisting the pastor with the growing demand for home visits.
The program’s scope has evolved around the need defined by the most vulnerable members of our own parish and the surrounding community. It is grounded in providing a strong spiritual base of pastoral support through a listening presence, prayer, and Holy Communion for those unable to leave home or attend Mass. Visiting ministers build a caring relationship to companion parishioners through the emotional and spiritual challenges of loss, grieving, suffering, and faith during their privileged visits. During this sharing, ministers remain open to hear themes of suffering tied to the need for strengthened family connections, medical support, or other community referrals. Understanding that they cannot solve these concerns, when appropriate, ministers seek out possible resources that could be of assistance.
Parishioners eager to use their gifts to the fullest have joined together to provide pastoral and support services. They begin with a six-week training session: Pastoral Care to the Sick and Homebound Workshop Program to build their skills in providing pastoral care. Once trained, care ministers commit to making regular home visits to those in need and/or assisting with special projects such as accompanying kin to medical appointments, shopping, or providing help with a move.
This mission is linked directly to the entire parish through the rite of commissioning at the conclusion of the training. The blessing from the church community is a significant part of our parish shared discipleship of compassionate service to the needy and is an important component of this circle of care. As parishioners send out the ministers to visit, they go with the prayers and blessings of the entire community.
Saint Cecilia CARES ministers continue to build their skills through the support of monthly meetings when they gather for prayer, supportive sharing, and theological reflection.
“How do we experience God’s work in the lives of those we visit?” “How are our lives impacted by God’s presence in the midst to their suffering?”
If you are feeling a call to this ministry, or know of anyone who might benefit from it, contact Jeanne Bruno (Coordinator of Pastoral Outreach) at 617-536-4548.