One Mission, Many Ministries
Sr Patricia Boland’s ministry for many years was educating youth in our secondary schools and then adults in the Faith Formation courses offered by our Tenison Woods Education Centre. She delighted in sharing her knowledge of the Scriptures in the 'Taste and See' courses and Church History in the Christian Formation Course. Currently, Sr Patricia lives in Newcastle and while always an educator, is now engaged in a number of ministries in her local area. Here is her story.
I see my peculiar mix of ministries as opportunities to practise the Gospel value of positivity. In his seminars, the late Father Kevin O’Shea CSsR introduced many in our area to this word. It sums up beautifully what I try to do.
I am part of a Vincent de Paul group and I go every week with a partner on Vinnies calls to its emergency accommodation seeing a variety of people in crisis. Sometimes we go to a home that has basic accommodation for men often just out of gaol. One listens and tries to provide hope and a positive outlook of real possibilities and some practical help. Sometimes it is a solemn handshake with an ex-con, reinforcing his promise to avoid gaol from now on and become a better father for his children. Sometimes for a young single mum who has poured out her troubles to us, a hug is necessary. Occasionally there is a refugee struggling with English and needing not only our practical help, but also the support of the refugee services nearby. Meeting so many people mostly in genuine need keeps one grounded.
There is the regular taking of Communion to the near-by aged care facility. There is Mary in the dementia ward who knows me and knows the gift of Communion I bring. There is a group in the hostel where we discuss the gospel and the amazing person of Jesus who is present among us. Then there are several bedridden patients: Margaret, Mary and Dorothy. I walk out feeling truly blessed.
I also lead a discussion group of about ten people in a parish. The men are the noisiest but I do get my say and make sure others do, too! It is certainly lively. It is a hopeful sign that there are so many little groups grappling with their faith in our changing world.
Occasionally I tutor refugee university students. Writing English can be so complicated and it is a joy to help untangle essay questions and improve the students’ expressions. In fact, one can practice positivity wherever one is, such as at line dancing or shopping or wherever.
Above all is my commitment to my fellow Sisters whom I visit regularly. Grapes and chocolate and stories are great aids to positivity. What encourages me is the determination of my Sisters that although we are aging and dying out as a species we are not dead yet and we will go on living as faithful participants in the Jesus’ movement of positivity.