Hope and Healing

Pope Francis describes the Church as a “field hospital” for the wounded and hurting. Stephen Ministers are the medical staff, helping to bring God’s healing to people in need. Stephen Ministers volunteer at St. Richard, St. John Neumann and St. Bernard parishes, providing one-to-one caregiving to parishioners struggling with grief, the pain of divorce or separation, illness or health concerns, job loss or crisis, loneliness or any of life’s difficulties. At St. Bernard Parish in Mt. Lebanon, there are 11 Stephen Ministers, with eight others taking part in a 50-hour training program. They learn active listening skills, how to provide Christian caregiving, and help fellow parishioners deal with a range of feelings and personal challenges. “We are the ears of Christ,” says Tisha Bridges, pastoral associate at St. Bernard’s. “We pray with those receiving care, to help bring God’s love and healing to people who are hurting.” Stephen Ministers walk alongside those going through rough times, meeting weekly until the person no longer needs the care. They listen, pray, and maintain confidentiality. The program also helps ministers grow, becoming better husbands and wives, sons and daughters to elderly parents, as they learn how to listen, empathize and pray—receiving the grace of truly being present to one another.

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