When Father asked me to talk for a few minutes on ministry, I thought for a moment – What would I be able to contribute on ministry? Then Father pointed out that in fact when my wife Coleen and I work at the Compassion Centre, commonly known as the Soup Kitchen, we too are involved in ministry. This came as quite a shock to us both. But on reflection we realised that this is exactly what it is – Shared Ministry.
I started to think about ministry and realised that my childhood thing associated ministry only with Priests and Religious. Now with the lack of vocations today I came to the conclusion which is probably not an accident, but merely God’s plan for involving the laity into shared ministry and partnership for proclaiming the Gospel in the Twenty First Century. Our commitment to shared ministry is with the Sisters of Compassion at the Compassion Centre in Tory Street and also with Compassion Housing in Upper Hutt. It is by being involved in the Compassion Centre that we know that each and every person who comes in contact with the Centre is treated with dignity and compassion and this Compassion seems to be infectious. One evening a guest had just paid his dollar and on being handed his meal turned and saw a fellow guest by his side. A few quiet words where exchanged, neither man had any more money, the first man then handed his meal to the second man saying, “I am not really hungry tonight.” For me a truly unforgettable and touching display of compassion.
I have been involved with Compassion Housing since the Sisters purchased the Upper Hutt Pensioner Housing. During this time I have seen older people enjoy the refurbishment of their small units and their well being increased as they know that they will receive visits from the Sisters and Volunteers who are mindful of their individual needs.
Through our shared ministry Coleen and I have received far more than we have put in to it. We have made many new friends. We have had the opportunity of interaction with others from all walks of life and we have learnt many lessons along the way. For example a man asked Sister for a sock. He was given a pair of socks. He said to Sister “I only asked for one sock Sister, only one sock is worn out.”
Coleen and I share in the Sisters daily prayer: “Thanks be to God for all he has done and is doing for us.”