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The desire by priests and religious to improve the lives of those they serve is one of their greatest impulses. It can also be one of their greatest struggles when the people whom they are serving are terminally ill.
“There are some things that you can’t fix,” said Sr. Amy Hoey, RSM. “You have to accept the reality of the end of life; we can’t fix that. Acknowledging that requires a certain degree of self- knowledge and humility.”
Sr. Amy co-founded Companioning the Dying, a ministry to support people called to accompany those approaching death. She has also served as a hospice volunteer and now assists her fellow Mercy sisters who require skilled nursing care.
Those who are called to caregiving need to come to peace with what is out of their control, Sr. Amy said, and place their trust in God to take care of things. Especially frustrating can be the fact that one day is so different from the next, and one never knows what to expect. It is important for them to connect with a mentor or other caregivers to share their experiences and burdens.
Caregiving in religious communities is an especially powerful witness because it illustrates the deep bonds that unite those in consecrated life.
“We’d do it for anybody just because we are sisters together and we are facing the ultimate questions together,” Sr. Amy said. “If religious in the 21st century can teach the world how to deal with death, we would have given an inestimable gift to the world.”
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