What is Pastoral Care?

Dear Friends,

We have been praying through some difficult things together. Many of our beloveds in the parish and in our
circles of connection, and many of us ourselves, are experiencing illness and difficulty in our bodies, in our
mental health, and even in our relationships. Today I want to say a few things about pastoral care.

I’ve found myself in several conversations lately, where I end up talking about what “pastoral care” means. is
is a timely topic, especially since Sunday’s songs and readings will be all about the “Good Shepherd.” Pastoral
care refers to the way the Church (not just clergy) shepherds (cares for, nourishes, and guides) the flock.

When many of us think of pastoral care, we have the image of a minister or chaplain at the bedside of a
person in the hospital. is is certainly a critical part of pastoral care, and it is a particular expression of the
ministry that SuEllen+ and I look to fulfill in our vocation as priests.

ese days, since hospitals don’t call clergy when their parishioners are admitted, it is important to call or have
someone call us if you are in the hospital. Just reach out to the church office (503.284.7141 or
gloriao@stmaa.org) if you or a loved one are in the hospital and desire a visit or special prayers. We want to be
there for you and your loved ones in those critical or particularly scary moments. You are loved, you are cared
for, and you are not alone. Please always feel welcome to contact the church office or the clergy directly and let
us know when you are having a surgery or if you or a loved one is in the hospital. One note: in a parish our
size, clergy don’t always “get the message” via social media or word of mouth. The connection depends on a
phone call or email to the office or clergy directly.

e work of pastoral care goes far beyond hospital visits. Sometimes you may just need to talk or pray with
someone personally and confidentially. Your clergy are willing to set an appointment at the office if you seek
advice, prayer, or just a listening ear. Clergy are here to offer emotional or spiritual care. While we can’t offer
psychotherapy or mental health counseling, sometimes it takes a conversation with a minister or other trusted
companion before knowing how or having the courage to take another step to another level or type of
support. When your clergy meet with you, our intention is to listen to you and to the Spirit, and to care for
your needs even when it leads to a referral to other care providers who can support physical or mental health
needs. It is always ok to reach out to your priests in any concern or trouble, with confidence that we will
support you as spiritual caregivers and walk with you to find the other kinds of care you may need.

Our Prayer Chain is a group of folks dedicated to praying for the needs of you or those you love. They are
trained to keep your information confidential, focusing on lifting those needs to God in prayer. You can send
these prayer requests to the Prayer Chain through the church office by phone or email. Marie Bagwell and
Julie Granfield coordinate this ministry.

Please note that healing prayers are also offered by St. Brigid’s Guild on the 2nd Sunday of each month.
Members of this prayer ministry are available in the Columbarium (door left of the altar) during the sharing
of Holy Communion and after the 9:00 and 11:00 services in the Chapel (door right of the altar).

Lay Eucharistic Visitors will bring Holy Communion to you in your home if coming to church is not an
option. ese folks are trained and licensed by the Bishop to receive the Sacrament from the gathered
community, and to bring it to your home to share with you as an extension of our Communion with God
and one another. Again, you can reach out to the office to request home Communion. The Rev. Marla
McGarry-Lawrence coordinates this ministry.

Prayer Shawls are lovingly made, and they are offered to anyone who requests one of these beautiful and
tangible signs of God’s love, presence and healing to envelop them in times of trial. A Prayer Shawl can be
requested through the office. Sue Harper coordinates this ministry. Birthday cards are sent out to make
special contact and celebrate the milestone of another year. (Do we have your contact and birthday info?)
Kevin Warren coordinates recovery ministries. And Lynn Baker organizes receptions for funerals.

The care we receive in Christian community is often one of the most powerful experiences of belonging to a
church parish. Our systems for caregiving are human systems, which means they sometimes have gaps, or
break down, or fall short. Still emerging from COVID and transition, we continue to rebuild the support
structure that is needed for a healthy parish of our size at St. Michael’s. I hope today you hear the messages (1)
that we care for you; (2) that we seek to be here for you; (3) and that we are being intentional about pastoral
care at St. Michael’s.

We are with you.

Scott+ & SuEllen+
The Rev. R. Scott Painter e Rev. SuEllen Pommier
Email: ScottP@stmaa.org Email: SuEllenP@stmaa.org