The Reverend Jane Simmonds was collated as Archdeacon of Deacons at All Saints Church, Bodalla during the service of Evening Prayer on 16 May.
It was a simple but moving ceremony and Jane said that she was so glad that the service took place in the local church amongst her colleagues, those with whom she has served for some time, and congregation and family representatives.
In her address, Bishop Carol reminded deacons that they are called to be at the coalface of ministry, to walk with others in their space, wherever they are, and in love and service to bring Christ to them.
Jane is the aged and pastoral care deacon in the parish of Narooma /Bodalla. As the title suggests, she works mainly with older people: residents in the two nursing homes in Dalmeny, and those in their own homes who are sick or too frail to attend church services.
‘The lockdown and restrictions we are going through, has really brought home to me how socially isolated these valuable older people normally are,’ she said. ‘They can go for days without seeing anyone, without having a meaningful conversation with another person, and all the other things that go with that. Yet these same people have contributed to our society all their lives. They are truly forgotten people.’
Like so many of us, Jane has been keeping in touch with parishioners and residents at the nursing homes with phone calls, emails, and handwritten cards. During this time she has had many deep and meaningful conversations that may not have happened otherwise.
When she was asked to conduct a shortened Anzac Day service for veterans and Legacy widows at one of the nursing homes, Jane jumped at the chance.
‘I had thought that I wouldn’t be allowed in for a long time. It was such a joy to be able to see the people in the flesh again; for us all to be together, to remember, to pray, to sing hymns, on such an important occasion. We were a very small group, all socially distanced, and with plenty of hand washing.’
Since then, Jane has been continuing to visit residents at that facility, holding a weekly worship service, as well as giving spiritual and pastoral support. She has even started a small Bible study, which is continuing to grow in numbers.
‘People are cut off from their family members and friends. They are just so hungry for meaningful contact with someone from the outside, it is a real privilege to share in their lives.’
There will be many challenges ahead for Jane in her new position as Head of the Household of the Deaconate, but she says that serving people will remain her priority: caring for older people as well as caring for the deacons, however God leads her, one step at the time.
Please continue to pray for Jane and her ministry, especially as she learns more about and adjusts to her new role.
Story from Archdeacon Jane Simmonds