By Nikki Rajala | The Central Minnesota Catholic
Among the vital programs at the St. Cloud Hospital, two seek more volunteers — No One Dies Alone and Eucharistic Ministry, said Peter Bauck director of Spiritual Care for CentraCare.
During the pandemic when the building was closed to visitors, programming wasn’t available, but both of those programs have now returned, Bauck explained.
“Volunteers are critical to the mission of the hospital. We’re grateful for the individuals who provide compassion for persons who are in pain or suffering a health care crisis. Volunteers offer a healing presence that God calls us to provide, the hope that God is with them regardless of the circumstances that unfold,” Bauck said.
Rebecca Calderone, director of Catholic Mission, added, “In living out the Catholic, Benedictine mission of the St. Cloud Hospital, we are called, in the words of St. Benedict, to welcome all people as Christ. Our volunteers play a critical role in how we put that call into action.”
No One Dies Alone
“In the No One Dies Alone program,” Bauck said, “a person may not have loved ones who can be at his or her bedside. Or perhaps the family members of the dying person need a moment away from the hospital to rest or rejuvenate. Then our volunteers come to sit at the bedside and offer their healing presence so the dying are cared for. Depending on the patient’s spirituality, the volunteer may offer appropriate readings or prayers — during the instruction period, volunteers learn what to read or provide.
“Each of the dying persons in chronic or terminal stages in the hospital has their own timing and process which we can’t predict, so these volunteers are on call,” he said. “The need is determined by the nursing staff and chaplains. Volunteers receive a phone call informing them of the need. It’s not mandatory to respond, but if they are available, they can choose to come in for an amount of time.”
Any compassionate person can be trained to provide healing presence for the dying in the No One Dies Alone program. Being part of a religious group is not a requirement — volunteers may give spiritual care to someone who may not share the same worldview they have. All who are interested in this program are trained through Volunteer Services and Spiritual Care at the hospital. (See box.)
As a Catholic hospital, it’s important to provide the healing of the sacrament for Catholic patients, Bauck said.
“I feel honored to be able to bring the Eucharist to them and pray with them,” said volunteer Pat Fitzharris.
Protestant Communion can also be requested by patients or family.
Volunteers in Eucharistic Ministry have predictable schedules on the weekdays or weekends they provide Communion. While volunteers may have specific parish training, they also go through training from Volunteer Services and the Catholic staff in Spiritual Care at the hospital. Those interested are asked to visit the website to complete an application.
“Having a beautiful heart is a good word for why people volunteer,” Bauck said. “We’ll take all the helping hearts that we can get.”
How to Volunteer
For more information or to fill out an application form, visit Volunteer Services at https://www.centracare.com/volunteer/st-cloud. Then click on Explore Volunteer Opportunities and on Spiritual Care.