A patient said to the friar, “Young man, there is no medicine that can cure me. My problem is here (pointing to his forehead). I know too much, I worry too much, I want to control too much. Only God, in the end, can help. But I am still overanxious.” The friar replied, “Sir, do you believe that God will be good enough for you?” The patient broke down in tears and after a good five minutes of silence, he asked for prayer to surrender, to believe in God, to have the faith of a child again.
This encounter took place when the friar was providing pastoral care for the sick in Mount Alvernia Hospital as part of his Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programme.
Six student friars – Cosmas Francis, Crispus Mosinoh, Gerald Terence, Sixtus Pitah, Gerald Tan and Robin Toha – are taking the CPE programme that runs from 2 July to 20 November. The programme will help them learn how to provide pastoral service to persons in crisis through action-reflection instructional methods and supervised practice in real-world settings.
They are on attachment with Mount Alvernia Hospital for the 20-week programme, journeying with patients and staff as they learn. A typical two-week cycle comprises six days of providing care for the patients, one day serving as communion and baby blessing ministers on the weekend, one day of group supervision and seminar, and a session of individual supervision.
Through his encounter with the leper, St Francis of Assisi learned to be truly human, humble and obedient to God and his fellow brothers and sisters. Through journeying with patients and staff, the friars are learning to remember to praise God at all times. Through encounters with the sick – such as the one above – the friars learn that we are all first and foremost human beings made in the image and likeness of God, made by love and to love.
Through the experiences in this programme, the friars are reminded once again of their first call – to be brothers to everyone, and called to care for one another. In caring for one another, our God, who is God of relationship, is truly present among us.
Indeed, as it says in Proverbs,
“Iron is sharpened by iron; one person is sharpened by contact with another.”-Proverbs 27:17