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What in the World is Pastoral Care?

Every November, we remember those who passed in the previous year, with a ribbon bearing their name completed with a cross stitched at the end, in the church gathering space.

What in the World is Pastoral Care?

That is a question that arises quite frequently when discussing Church ministries. In theory, pastoral care involves providing parishioners spiritual, emotional and social support. In practice at St. Maria Goretti, this includes a number of ministries and events.

One of the primary activities of the pastoral care team is visiting parishioners in area hospitals. Three days a week, we make a circuit of the Madison hospitals, attempting to see every SMG patient, whether they are in ICU or just a planned short-stay procedure. In this ministry, we ask for your help – if a member of your family is hospitalized, please let us know; privacy laws do not allow hospitals to provide us the names of parishioners unless those patients have requested they do so.

However, hospitals are just the beginning of our weekly visits. We also make the rounds of area nursing homes, assisted living complexes, memory care centers and a number of private homes to visit and provide communion to members of our parish family who are unable to join us on a regular basis for worship or other events. Fr. Tony, in particular, plays a key part in these visits. In addition, we have a large number of people we contact by phone who may be in need of some type of support, from medical issues to loneliness. In this regard, we again rely on family members and friends to alert us to the needs of fellow parishioners. Keep in mind that all the work we do in pastoral care is kept strictly confidential.

While this accounts for most of the day-to-day activities in pastoral care, we also are responsible for a number of other ministries and services. Twice a year, typically May and October, we help organize Anointing Masses for those who are in need of the sacrament. In addition to the services held at SMG, we also provide Anointing Masses at All Saints Assisted Living and Memory Care. Also, twice a year in the spring and in the fall, we host five-week bereavement sessions for those who have lost a loved one. In November, we assist in providing a Mass of Remembrance for parishioners who have lost loved ones.

The Pastoral Care team is also responsible for preparing the weekly Thursday morning Masses at All Saints Assisted Living and the bi-weekly Masses at All Saints Memory Care. In addition, we provide communion visits for those in the All Saints communities who are unable to attend Mass.

Along with our Outreach Ministry and with the assistance of Melissa Kelley of Catholic Charities, we have begun a respite care team, christened the Mazzuchelli Respite Care Team. This parishioner-to-parishioner ministry provides respite care and home visits for homebound individuals. The team is a rousing success, with both recipients and care providers enjoying its benefits.

As Christmas approaches, the pastoral care team plans home visits for the parish priests to provide the homebound with the opportunity for Reconciliation, and also assists with the distribution of the generous donations of our parish in the annual Giving Tree event. And as the liturgical calendar moves forward, on Ash Wednesday we provide ashes to each and every person on our lists who cannot come to services.

In the educational arena, the Pastoral Care team sponsors six First Tuesday Breakfasts a year. These pot-luck meals occur (surprise, surprise) on the first Tuesday of each month, September through November and February through April, after the 8 a.m. Mass. Each breakfast features a speaker on a wide variety of topics relevant to our parish family.

As you can see, Pastoral Care includes a variety of ministries and events which allow us to extend our parish community to wherever our parishioners are – physically, emotionally or spiritually.

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