Sharing: An HIV/AIDS Ministry Sees Hope

As part of my first-year orientation as a candidate in the Maryknoll Sisters, I had ministry in a transitional living recovery home. This home offers adult men and women with HIV/AIDS, who were homeless or at-risk of homelessness, a chance to rebuild and reclaim their lives. The spiritual care offered recognizes that while exploration of faith and spirituality is a personal choice, it frequently plays a powerful role in recovery and reclaiming one’s life.
My friend and I attended the Bible Study led by the spiritual care coordinator. We took turns reading Scripture passages and sharing our experiences and thoughts related to the passages. Bible Study was not a favorite activity, as there was no one who came faithfully; residents came in and out as they wanted.
My friend and I stayed in the dining room after Bible Study and tried to make conversation with the residents. There were various persons coming in and out, so we could only have short conversations. When we played rummikub in the dining room, there were several residents, even some staff, who were asking what was the game, how to play, who was the winner, but they never wanted to play for various reasons.
One of the residents was willing to share his life experiences. It was my first time to know more about a resident’s addiction history. When he could not attend Bible Study anymore, sometimes we had conversations in the dining room. He always said “I miss you guys” each time we met. One day he told the spiritual care coordinator that he enjoyed speaking with us. It was really a compliment for us. Another resident gave me a hug when he visited the recovery house several weeks after moving out.
I had better relationships with the residents by being present in the dining room. At first I was a stranger, but finally they knew my regular presence and even started to make conversation. At first our visit was for Bible Study, but we got invitations to come even though there was no Bible Study.
Looking at the residents, I would never think they are people with HIV/AIDS; they looked healthy. This was a general condition at the home. I only realized that I was in a transitional recovery house when I was asked to wash my hands upon arriving and leaving, as was requested by one of the residents after several visits.
Knowing the residents changed my perspective that people with HIV/AIDS are not always dying persons. I see hope for them, especially when I heard several residents would move out to their own apartment. How I experienced this ministry was not only about giving but also about receiving.

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Re-posting from Chicago House Formation Blog of Maryknoll Sisters Website: