By Steve Stencil, Dignity/Arizona Board member
Dignity/Arizona has experienced an increase in membership during the past couple of years. With a growing faith community comes increasing pastoral needs.
Early in 2012, a need arose when two new members of Dignity/ Arizona experienced serious illness, includ- ing hospitalization, and no one from Dignity/Arizona reached out to them during their time of need. Although community leadership was not aware of their need for pastoral outreach, the Board also realized there was no organizational structure in which members could request sensitive pastoral outreach during times of sickness, personal loss, incidents of possible or actual violence, or the harsher effects of aging. The two new members of Dignity/Arizona sent a pointed and heart wrenching letter to the chapter president expressing their disappointment and concern about this seeming lack of sensitivity.
Since then, the Board has addressed the con- cern and realized our need for a Ministry of Pastoral Care. “Suffering wears a thousand faces, and every face is Christ’s!” Dignity/Arizona must mean more than a Saturday evening Vigil Mass and a potluck gathering once a month. We must reach out to our members whenever anyone is suffering. A brochure has been prepared to encourage members to invite the community to be with them at those times.
Although the formation of this new ministry for our local chapter continues to evolve, Catholic clergy and lay members are available upon request for the Sacraments of Healing, visitations to the sick and homebound, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, holy unions, and providing transportation to Mass and other chapter events.
One of the deepest causes of suffering is a sense of isolation. We want our members to be assured that they are very much a part of our community of faith as we embrace one another as sisters and brothers in Christ.