Sharing: When there is a will...

While in Chicago, I discussed with our ministry of care coordinator the possibility of accompanying a Eucharistic minister in prayer on patient visits at the University of Chicago Hospital (UoCH). They didn’t have this ministry, so she agreed to try it. As her suggestion, I attended the Ministry of Care training, including a presentation about “Sacramental Theology and the Expanding Role of the Laity.”
I also attended an orientation and medical check-up at the hospital as advised. I was also asked to have a tuberculin skin test and a urine drug screen after the orientation. My tuberculin skin test came up positive, but my chest x-ray showed no evidence of active disease. I received clearance on the medical issue.
Unfortunately, I was told that I couldn’t accompany the Eucharistic minister during patient visits. My eyes were in tears when I left the hospital. I only could say “God, I don’t understand, God, I don’t understand.”
After that, I felt relief, and I did not want to cry again. Even though I still did not understand the meaning of my TB skin test, which was not necessary but brought me to a recommendation to have nine months of Isoniazid (INH) treatment, I understood that God is with me.
I asked the parish ministry coordinator if I could visit homebound patients. That didn’t quite work out either, as there’s no schedule for such visits. That’s when I started my weekly ministry at Bonaventure House, a transitional living recovery home for adult men and women with HIV/AIDS who are homeless or at risk for homelessness. We help them to rebuild and reclaim their lives.
Since I still had a valid UoCH ID, I checked the hospital’s website for the possibility of being a patient volunteer. Fortunately, I could serve through the hospital’s Office of Community Affairs/Volunteer Services. I wanted to visit patients and ask whether they needed some help. I started this ministry while I continued my service at Bonaventure House.
I usually brought magazines in a cart and offered it from room to room on the fifth floor. Some patients would take the magazines, while others asked the price. Some patients didn’t want to read, but it helped me to start a conversation and then to have longer conversations with the patients, including asking how long was their hospital stay, their particular illness, and how they were feeling at the time.
Sometimes, patients needed help in getting water for a drink or a bath. I also offered to pray by laying my hand on them. Some patients were thankful for the prayers, and some patients didn’t want it. I started to pray whenever and wherever somebody asked for it. I even prayed on the street, in the train, and in front of Church.
My passion for healing prayer encouraged the members of the St. Thomas of the Apostle Charismatic Prayer Group to ask me to organize our Healing Prayer Study Group. We listened to the CDs from the school weekly.
I talked with Harriet, who is a Eucharistic minister, about visiting our friends who were sick in the hospital. We went by ourselves to share. The daughter of our friend needed a prayer, and we decided to visit them. I didn’t think that Harriet would bring Holy Communion, even though I knew that she was a Eucharistic ministers.
We talked again about the possibility of visiting patients at UoCH together, as Harriet usually brings Holy Communion weekly. Finally, we decided to do it before the University of Chicago Hospital’s 69th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. The hospital asked us not to visit the patients due to Swine Flu. And we never did again before I left Chicago.
I never thought that I would start a prayer team with Harriet in the last month of my orientation training in Chicago, which was my wish for my first ministry in the fall of 2007. I had waited almost two years just to become part of a prayer team with a Eucharistic minister.
I learned to be patient and not to be discouraged when I had a failure or faced an objection. There is meaning in every moment of my life. As St. Paul said, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8: 28).”

— Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.

Re-posting from Maryknoll Sisters Formation House Blog