“I said, ‘Is it alright if I talk to you for a few minutes?’ She said, ‘Yeah, but don’t talk about God.’ For Elma Webb, a Centacare hospital chaplain, this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
“I said, ‘We’ll have a chat about something else’. And every time I visited after that we talked about everything other than God – for three years. One day she said to me, ‘Will you pray with me?’ and I did.”
“I actually helped with her funeral service a couple of years ago. Her family had become friends. They used to come sometimes when I was with her, and would sit and pray with her too. It’s things like that you don’t forget.” Elma is quick to acknowledge her Catholic faith is the most important thing in her life.
She lives out this faith through her ministry as a hospital chaplain, bringing comfort to patients experiencing some of the most traumatic days of their lives. She and her team make sure every patient admitted into the hospital is introduced to a chaplain.
“Often in the grip of illness and fear people do not want to burden their families”, says Justine, a younger pastoral care worker on Elma’s team. “They will often share things with us that they’ve never told anyone. And once they share it with us it’s like a heavy weight has been lifted. This is the importance of pastoral care.”
For Elma, Justine and so many of Centacare’s chaplains this work often goes beyond comforting the sick – it’s about helping patients, in physical and emotional pain, come to know the love of God.
Centacare’s hospital chaplaincy is not funded by the government. It’s supported by individuals through the Annual Catholic Campaign. It’s just one example of how your gift brings the love of Jesus to our neighbours who need it most.