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Recently I was struck by an image posted on Facebook of a person leaning on a shovel in a very large paddock. The comment was that prayer without action is equivalent to this character with a huge task ahead of him, leaning there on his shovel waiting for something to happen without any input from himself.

It reminded me of the quest for a place of prayer in the redevelopment of my local hospital at Wagga Wagga where I have worked in Pastoral Care for over 20 years; beginning as a volunteer, then as Assistant to the Coordinator of Pastoral Care, then Coordinator.

In 2006 we began planning for the redevelopment of our tired hospital buildings. Our department of Pastoral Care was asked to ‘dream up big’ what we would like to see for us in the new build and we boldly outlined our desire for a space big enough for small services, a mass or morning prayer, with a place to meet privately with families, an office space and a courtyard or garden. The team began praying, spreading the word and using every opportunity to bring the need of a new prayer space to the attention of those who needed to listen – executives, faith leaders, members of parliament and others. We planted the seed.

There were times that we thought we would never see our prayers and dreams come to anything; that we might well not have a place at all. But we kept on, patiently and with hope, doing the best we could for the patients and staff, doing all our training, not complaining when we were moved from place to place, being grateful that we had a spot at all and that we did have a humble little chapel that used to be one of the theatres in the old multi-storey building. Tilling the soil – no leaning on shovels here.

We patiently mulched and added nutrients, getting rid of the weeds that would choke our growth. We waited for our new place to pray for 15 years, and a month ago we moved in. Praise God.

We patiently mulched and added nutrients, getting rid of the weeds that would choke our growth. We waited for our new place to pray for 15 years, and a month ago we moved in. Praise God.

The staff, patients and their families have everything we dreamed of having and more. Added to the list that we asked for is a kitchen and storage space that just blows my mind. We are blessed. We worked hard. We held to our faith and we sowed with love and now I pray that the work of the team will continue to bring others to know and love our Lord a little more nearly and dearly in a much larger and more pleasant place.

The Multifaith Space is on the ground floor near the main entry – in the very heart of the hospital. All people are welcome here to pray, to be, to sit quietly and to reflect. The Prayer Room and glassed area will be wrapped in film with an artistic design which incorporates the Murrumbidgee River, native flora, praying hands and symbols of healing and wholeness. This film will give the Prayer Room privacy and soften the light. It is due to be completed this month.

I was ordained Deacon in the Church of St John the Evangelist in Wagga Wagga on the Eve of the Feast of St Mary Magdalene on the 21st July, 2002, by Bishop Godfrey Fryar, alongside Elizabeth Sloane. I was baptised and confirmed in St John’s and my parents and I worshiped regularly. This is my spiritual home in every way.

I have been involved in pastoral care ministry in Wagga Wagga since 2000 including Calvary hospital twice a week and Gumleigh Gardens Nursing Home whilst working full time at WWBH.

My love for this ministry grew out of my involvement in Mothers’ Union while my husband and I lived in Griffith NSW and I worshiped at the Cathedral Church of St Alban the Martyr in the Diocese of the Riverina. The MU gathered me up as a young mum and nurtured me into ministry to the sick and the aging. I recently had the privilege of giving the address at St Alban’s Cathedral where I was able to acknowledge the role the parish and in particular the MU had in preparing me for my ministry as a Vocational Deacon.

Until recently I lead a Prayer, Praise and Proclamation service in the beautiful country church at Ladysmith on a fortnightly basis but the need to slow down a bit has seen me welcome Barbara Geale into a job-share position at WWBH where I now work three days a week and on-call and have taken a step back from St Saviour’s. I now enjoy sitting in the company of the congregation that I have grown to love so dearly.

I am also part of the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network and served in the Snowy Mountains and Evacuation Centres there and in Wagga Wagga during the Black Summer fires of 2019-20.

I continue to have a liturgical role in St John’s and assist with baptisms and funeral services. My life is full and I feel blessed to have been called to serve our Lord in this way.

 

By Reverend Leonie White
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