By Richard Hammer, Ministry Leader of Stephen Ministry 

Since I am a retired master’s level rehabilitation counselor, I am happy to draw on my thirty years experience as I function in my role as a volunteer Stephen Ministry Leader with the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi.  Also, I personally have benefitted from being a Stephen Ministry care receiver and a client in both individual and group counseling sessions during my life.  Through my life’s work and this emotional and spiritual care, I have gained self-forgiveness, acceptance and improved coping. 

During these past five years of participating in confidential Stephen ministry peer supervision, I have observed how both male and female care receivers unpack their burdens with their Stephen minister.  I have found that any initial reluctance care receivers have about sharing a current burden in a confidential, active listening type relationship quickly changes from anxiety to comfort and trust.  The care receiver often re-arranges their coping behaviors with a renewed sense of hope and self confidence and peace.  Some of our care receivers are also helped while they work through the implications of their burdens in light of their faith through the supportive listening of a Stephen Minister.

I often find the writings of Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, OFM to be relevant and helpful with my own growth issues and in regard to the work of Stephen Ministry.  Rohr comments in On the Threshold of Transformation: Daily Meditations for Men on healing, forgiveness, and peace – all things that care receivers often experience through this important one-on-one ministry:

“Therapy, pastoral counseling, men’s work, contemplative prayer, spiritual direction, and volunteer work are all ways to forgive and heal within ourselves the hatred, anger, long-suppressed disappointments, and broken dreams we’ve carried for far too long.  Then we will no longer need to project our pain onto the world.  Then we can be at peace.  Really!”

We all long for peace, and we often need a caring Christian friend who will walk alongside us with emotional and spiritual care during difficult times.  Through empathetic listening, prayerful support, and offering other resources and referrals as needed, Stephen Ministers are a vital part of the Christ-like care and wellness of our community providing this caring Christian friendship. 

If you would like to meet with a Stephen Ministry leader or become a Stephen Leader, please contact Jackie Adamo, Administrative Specialist for Pastoral Ministries, at 847-8205, ext. 268