“Bear one another’s burden, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
VITALity is. . .
STEPHEN MINISTRY / CARING AND LISTENING
We have many needs for care in our parish and our community: People experience divorce, grief, terminal illness, loss of job, relocation, retirement, hospitalization, loneliness, being a caregiver to a loved one and many other stresses and challenges. Stephen Ministry empowers the laity in spiritual care of people who need support throughout the crisis they face.
Stephen Ministry is a program through which selected lay members of a parish are trained and organized to help provide one on one confidential Christian care to members of our parish and our community. This program provides the parish with a team of skilled caregivers who are equipped to bring Christ’s comforting and healing presence to people who are experiencing many stresses in life. It is a lay ministry based on the idea that that all Christians are called to and gifted to minister to others. Stephen Ministry is a way people with special gifts for caring can use those gifts to bring Christ’s love to people in need. Stephen Ministers are each assigned a care receiver and meet with that care receiver for about an hour a week. This caring relationship will last for as long as the care receiver needs it.
By: Father Sanjai Devis, VC
Director of Stephen Ministry
Stephen Ministry at a Glance
Stephen Ministry Parishes: 14
Trained Stephen Ministry Leaders: 30
Stephen Ministers: 213
Care Receivers: 200+
“I wanted to be sure to let you know how much the Stephen Ministry, and in particular Barbara, my Stephen Minister, mean to me. Barbara came to me at a very dark time in my life. I had just lost my mother who was also my best friend. I felt so alone and had a feeling of desolation and depression.
We started meeting every week and Barbara would listen to me with compassion and understanding. She made it possible for me to begin to heal. Initially, we met once a week for several years. Now we are meeting every two weeks and I always look forward to our meetings. I feel that Barbara is a good friend and I truly appreciate the time we share and the fact that she takes time from her busy life to meet with me. . . I am so grateful for what God had done for me, especially through the gift of Stephen Ministry and my church, reassuring me that God has not abandoned me and I do not have to deal with my struggles all alone.”
A Pastor’s Perspective on Stephen Ministry
In today’s Church most parishes have only one priest and larger parishes may have two priests. Holy Family is one of the larger parishes in the Diocese of Camden ministering to approximately 4,000 families. Between myself, may associates pastor and two deacons, it leaves us with the care of about 1,000 families each. Quite impossible to reach and be present to all with all of the other duties we are obliged to carry out.
Here at Holy Family we are blessed with a Stephen Ministry. Started by Father Hughes and Father Sanjai , the ministry has become such an integral part of our identity and everyday life, as the ministry has grown to 56 members who are also known as care givers. The persons they meet with are care receivers and in those meetings people are given the space to voice their feelings in total confidence and privacy with another disciple of Christ as we are all disciples in this life.
Observing the Stephen Ministry in my two plus years as pastor I have come to notice how caring the members are for their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Many if not all the members themselves have been through some crises of their own which helps them as St. Paul says to reach out with the same compassion that they were shown by God and to then extend it to others. In my conversations with some of the Stephen Ministers I have come to learn how they accompany persons each step of the way truly entering into the care receiver’s journey much like Christ enters into a journey with us each step of the way, the ministry is profoundly personal and sacred.
By: Father John Picinic
Pastor, Church of the Holy Family
Stephen Ministry is a system through which selected members of a parish are trained and organized to help provide one on one confidential Christian care to members of our parishes and our communities. This will multiply the amount of caring ministry a parish can provide by giving the parish a whole team of skilled caregivers who are equipped to bring Christ’s healing love to people who are experiencing stresses in life.
Stephen Ministry is based on the idea that all Christians are called to minister to others. The responsibility for passing on God’s love is for all Christians, not just for a chosen few. God has given us all gifts for ministry and called us to put those gifts to use. Stephen Ministry is a way people with special gifts for caring ministry can use those gifts to bring Christ’s love to people in need.
We have many needs for care in our parishes and our communities: People experience divorce, grief, terminal illness, loss of job, relocation, empty nest, retirement, hospitalization, loneliness, and many other stresses and challenges. Often people with needs suffer silently or do not request or receive the level of care they really need. With only one or two priests for a large parish, you can quickly see why it would be impossible for our priests to meet every single need of every single person. Stephen Ministry expands the care the parish can offer by equipping and organizing members to provide Christian care. This gives us a larger pool of people with the gifts, skills and calling, to bring Christ’s love and care to those who need it.
Everybody benefits from Stephen Ministry. Those receiving care from Stephen Ministers benefit because they receive prayer and support throughout the crisis they face. Stephen Ministers benefit through the spiritual growth they experience from being involved in meaningful ministry. Priests benefit because caring ministry at our parishes is expanded, and fewer people will slip through the cracks. Most of all you benefit from the knowledge that special care is available to you should you need it. In addition, you now have a place where you can refer a friend, neighbor, coworker, relative, or anyone else you know who is going through a difficult time so that they can receive special care when they need it most. Stephen Ministry makes our parishes a much more caring place!
Stephen Ministers are members of a parish who have gone through 50 hours of training to provide confidential high quality Christian care to individuals experiencing a crisis or challenge such as divorce, grief, hospitalization, relocation, aging, spiritual crisis, or loneliness. Stephen Ministers are each assigned a care receiver and meet with that care receiver for about an hour a week. This caring relationship will last for as long as the care receiver needs it. The Stephen Ministers receive continuing education and twice monthly peer group supervision so that they are equipped to provide the best care.
When someone requests a Stephen Minister, the parish Stephen Ministry Coordinator/Leader will meet with that person, explain what Stephen Ministry is, and help determine whether Stephen Ministry is the kind of care that person needs. The leader then matches that person with one of the available Stephen Ministers. The Stephen Minister will then call that person to begin meeting with him or her for about an hour each week as long as there is a need. Everything a care receiver says to his or her Stephen Minister is kept confidential. The Stephen Minister doesn’t try to solve problems; rather, he or she listens, cares, prays, and helps the care receiver find his or her path to healing and wholeness.
If you would like more information on Stephen Ministry or how to begin the ministry at your parish, please contact:
Rev. Sanjai Devis