Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Charleen Acker comments on the witness of lay and Consecrated Persons as she ministers at St. Paul Elder Services Inc. in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. This is part of a series on “What is Catholic Education, it’s not just a school thing.”
I minister at St. Paul Elder Services in Kaukauna as a Sponsored Presence. As a sponsored presence I represent the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity as each person enters St. Paul’s. I recently had a family member tell me, “When I saw you at the front desk, I knew my brother was in good hands.” Besides being a sponsored presence, what do I do at St. Paul’s? It might be easier to say what I don’t do!!!
I help the receptionist with screening visitors, vendors, maintenance people, etc.
I deliver plants and flowers, packages, gifts, and mail to residents as well as staff.
I make copies, assist visitors in finding their way around, and helped with breakfast dishes when there was a need. So what does all of this have to do with education? The word educate means to lead out or lead forth. In paragraph # 23 the word witness struck me. Are we not all teachers and learners as we search for the truth and become a reflection of God’s goodness even though it may be “imperfect but still vivid, of the one TEACHER?” As consecrated persons we carry out an ecclesial mission and are evangelizers spreading God’s love and compassion by leading people out of darkness—whatever that darkness may be—mourning with those who mourn as we often do, welcoming the stranger as they walk through our doors the first time, and counseling the doubtful as they navigate their way through the kiosk the first time. We rejoice with those who rejoice as they leave our rehab area stronger and ready to resume some of their normal activities. The article mentioned that Catholic schools were established in response to the needs of the socially and economically disadvantaged. As an elder care facility we care for those who are on the other end of that spectrum of life who are “poor” because like children they are voiceless and often taken advantage of. I am proud to represent our community because we have a history of CARING for the poor and disadvantaged in all of our ministries. We try to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ to those we minister to and with. I’d like to close with a note I received from a lady who was in our rehab several times. Both of her legs have been amputated. Her husband delivered a plant to our house after her last stay. The message on the card said, “Thank you for being Jesus with two legs and smiles in Kaukauna.” To me that says it all.
To read the introduction to this series click here.