Sr Mary Gabrielle Clarke: Ministry to Sisters in carePrint
My ministry to our Sisters in Care has been the most wonderful, most challenging, and most rewarding apostolate.
It has been a privilege that I have experienced for almost 20 years. First and foremost, as a Sister of Charity, my greatest passion is to care for “the domestics of the faith,” our own Sisters.
My experience has changed significantly these past four years because I am unable to drive. Trams, buses, trains, taxis or walking are the order of the day when my own “private” taxi is otherwise occupied.
This situation in itself gives me time to reflect on where I am going, where I have been, and enables me to pray for the Sisters in my care.
I am a very organised person, so each week I have a routine of sorts ensuring that I visit our Sisters as regularly as possible. But it only takes a phone call to change any plans.
My mobile phone is on 24 hours a day so that I am able to be available when called. This might be to accompany a Sister to hospital, to perhaps be rung from the facility informing me of a fall, a deterioration in a Sister’s condition, permission to purchase a piece of medical equipment, or to sit by the bedside of a dying Sister.
And the paperwork goes on. This involves ensuring that I have all the necessary information available for each Sister and calls to the Congregation office.
I also am responsible for completing medical rebate forms, providing the Sisters with an allowance each month, buying clothes, replacing lost cards etc. – all fairly simple activities but important to make life easier for the Sisters. Taking away their worries is my aim for them.
At present, we have Sisters in two different facilities, so I support them by attending relative/resident meetings every couple of months, coffee clubs weekly,
bingo, concerts, and other facility functions. Some Sisters are able to attend Congregational activities but require transport so this may need to be organised if the Sister is unable to do this herself.
Congregation and family are very important in this ministry so contact by way of phone calls is a must.
The Sisters themselves love to have news of what is going on within the congregation so I make sure that they are receiving the appropriate communications from the Congregational Office.
The most important part of my ministry is for me to have one-on-one time with each Sister and in doing this the Sister feels that she is not a burden and that she is well loved and cherished by all of us.
Entering residential care for a Sister can be a monumental decision, so to make this entry easier I call on every bit of sensitivity that God has given me. Without the help of Elizabeth Reid, our health care coordinator, Pam Grime, my “private” taxi, Loretta, with her gift of social activities, and Anna, who is the best shopper in the world, and the support of the Congregational Office
staff, I would not be able to continue this work myself.
As you can imagine, Some days are diamonds (Some days are stones, John Denver).