I was asked to give a 10 minute talk today on hospital ministry to a group of deacons. My first idea was to present a “Top 10 List” of reasons for being a hospital minister. But, on further review, I decided that the format wasn’t right for the gathering. But I do think it might have some value here, so I’m going to go ahead and post it for your reading enjoyment. Feel free to comment below on either the content or the format.
P.S. You don’t have to be a deacon to be a hospital minister.
10. It feels good. I always leave the hospital feeling better than I felt when I got there. Some nights I see ten or twelve people. Some nights I only see one or two, but the people I visit inspire me to be a better person. I’ve seen miracles happen at the hospital and I’m pretty sure I’ve met angels.
9. There are five types of patients. Catholics; fallen-away Catholics; non-Catholic Christians; religious non-Christians; and non-religious. Each one really offers a unique ministry, not just a healing ministry, but also an educational ministry. A lot of the people I see, even Catholics, have no idea what a deacon is.
8. As much as Catholics need to come to church, the Church needs to come to them. By offering them prayer and the sacraments, hospital ministers make Catholic patients feel comforted and part of a larger community. (communion, Sos)
7. Fallen-away Catholics might just come back if they feel like the Church still cares about them. Sadly, sometimes they’ve been away a long time because of something someone said or did. (Pt this week who “couldn’t get” an annulment.
6. Depending on their particular denomination, our separated brothers and sisters may tolerate Catholics, be indifferent to Catholics, or hate Catholics. By treating them with respect and providing them with comfort and prayer, I may be able to break down some walls and leave them feeling better about us and our Church.
5. When people are in need, they need and appreciate prayer. Even non-Christians can be comforted by our prayers. It’s a way to build bridges. I once had a Hindu lady chase me down the hall begging me to come and pray for her mother. I did and you can’t imagine how grateful she was and how good I felt. Remember Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.
4. There are no atheists in fox holes.” I don’t think there are any atheists on the gurney on the way to the cardiac operating room either. Non-religious types, when they’re in trouble, usually don’t mind hedging their bets. I’ve never had anyone tell me, actually there have been two in ten years, but that’s another story, not to pray for them. Our presence as Catholic ministers may just be the push they need to reconsider God and their relationship with them.
3. We get free parking and a discount in the cafeteria. Plus, we get a swell Christmas gift every year.
2. As deacons, we’re called to serve. Each of us has his own calling. Some of us just haven’t figured out what it is yet. Hospital ministry is just one type of service. Some may love it. Some may hate it. But you never know until you try. Remember, I hated it when I was in formation.
1. The number one reason to practice hospital ministry: It makes Jesus happy and making Jesus happy makes me happy.