Once a month during Ordinary Time the Pastor’s Note will be provided by one of the Chaplaincies that operate in the Diocese. This month we focus on our Hospital Chaplains and volunteers with thoughts provided by Nela and Harry.
I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the chapel volunteers at the Auckland city hospital mass for the last 5 years. I first started during my pre-med year at university as a way to gain some experience in hospital and have some volunteering on my resume when applying for medical school. My initial plan wasn’t for it to be a long-term thing but here we are 5 years later. I’m currently in my 5th year of medical school and even though I’m in hospital the whole week for work, I still get excited about coming to the mass on Sunday. I love volunteering here because I get to meet so many amazing, strong, and kind people on a weekly basis. I’ve escorted patients who are over a hundred years old, patients who have travelled to so many amazing places, worked interesting jobs, and raised their families who they love dearly. I find so much inspiration from these incredible human beings and feel so lucky that I’m able to be one of the people who get to help them when they need it. No one wants to be in the hospital, but most of us end up here some time or another in our lives. It’s an incredibly difficult time for a lot of people and sitting around in your hospital room day in and day out with your thoughts can get very lonely and scary. The hospital mass provides a well needed break for these people and getting to see their faces light up with joy makes me feel so happy. I truly believe that faith and community can help somebody heal. My advice to those wanting to volunteer at hospital mass would be to go for it. I’ve made so many amazing friends whom I would now consider family. I’ve not only had the honour of helping others but the sense of community and support I’ve found at the chapel is above and beyond what I could have ever imagined.
How long: I have been an Auckland City Hospital Chapel escort for 12 years.
Experience: I had the pleasure of being the legs for the people who need a helping hand getting to and from the hospital chapel. This involves navigating through one of the biggest hospitals in New Zealand, finding the correct ward and room the patients are in, and scrambling to find the wheelchairs to get them down to the chapel in time. I often help out with the mass, by being a reader or reciting the prayers of the faithful. The work ends when we finish the mass, the patients are returned to the wards, and the chapel is tidied up for the next group to use.
Satisfaction: During my volunteer work, I have seen my brothers and sisters in Christ truly appreciating being able to celebrate mass during the time of illness. Often the patients are the hospital are confined to their rooms, and at one of the most difficult points of their lives. Being able to be amongst the sick and praying together is truly a humbling and rewarding experience.
Advice to others: It is extremely difficult to predict how many patients will be able to come to the chapel. At times, we have none or very few patients to escort to the mass, but have much larger list the very next week. My best advice is to be patient, consistent, punctual and open to all possibilities.
If you are interested in volunteering at the hospital please email Harry on firstname.lastname@example.org