I looked up the word ‘ministry’ in both the dictionary and the thesaurus and didn’t find what I expected to see! So I decided that I’d give the meaning of ‘service’ to my understanding of ministry.
The service that I consider the nearest to me takes place in community: being the kind of community member who shares responsibilities for the spirit that permeates the home. That includes all the little things that contribute to the quality of relationships we develop in the community.
Another of my ministries within the region is to journey with young Sisters who have taken the next step in their formation and have made their first vows. I see this ministry as a privileged partnership between the younger Sisters and me, her community and the South African Region Council. This journey involves spiritual growth, ministry, studies, community life and the well-being of the Sisters.
Further afield, I work for the Catholic Institute of Education (CIE) 3 days each week. This Non-Governmental Organization has been in existence for more than 33 years. It came into being initially to provide a national voice for Catholic Education, and a united front for open, non-racial education in apartheid South Africa; to act as a liaising body between faith-based schools and the South African government. There was a very strong move among the churches to stop the practice of apartheid in schools, and to open the doors to all races.
Since that time, the CIE has expanded its services in, mainly, Catholic education, but not exclusively so. It still negotiates and partners with various stakeholders about relevant projects that it undertakes (such as training of teachers for subjects such as religious education, skills in leadership, in literacy and numeracy); it joins in partnerships with like-minded other organizations in order to promote certain values (e.g. to be able to maintain a faith-based ethos in church schools); or give concrete assistance in specific fields, such as substantial aid to orphans and vulnerable children; to recognize signs of child abuse and to know what protocols to follow in dealing with this; obtaining funding to build classrooms or toilets especially in very under-resourced rural areas.
At present I am engaged in capturing data from a monitoring database programme. This programme has been devised to gather information from all the field workers and region coordinators involved in CIE’s many projects for which funding is raised. Another commitment is that of updating the archives.
I also work as a secretary recording or minute-taking for conferences, meetings and workshops of one kind or another which involves careful listening and accurate reporting.