Sr Helena McGilly
My name is Sr Helena McGilly and as part of my present ministry I have a role with our sisters in their purpose-built care- unit at St Joseph’s Convent, Hackney. In chatting with a visiting sister she said, ‘so you go on outings and arrange entertainment for the sisters.’ Like most comments there is some truth in it, but not the whole story.
So what am I about? After a year in this part-time post it seems to me that I am here for the sisters to ensure, as far as possible, that their individual care needs and expectations are met within the confines of the care-unit.
What does it entail? As one can imagine it covers a variety of things. These can range from late night and early morning checks when someone is ill; to escorting a sister to Mass; taking part in the recruiting process for staff; joining in the planning for outings and parties, as already mentioned, and so the list goes on.
Basically my role is meant to assist the Local Leader by taking responsibility for the well-being of the sisters, as well as supporting the Nurse and Carers who deliver the personal, clinical and social care. They provide for the various needs of the sisters at any given time, one day it may be hairdressing in-house or at a local saloon, or booking chiropody visits. Keeping the sisters fit with their exercise groups is a popular activity. The proximity of the hospice is also used to advantage, with attendance for those who wish at a weekly art class as well as other functions as they arise. A volunteer aromatherapist, who also happens to be a religious sister, offers massage on a regular basis. As with all health-care settings team work is of the essence. This extends to the wider team who provide the food, heat, light and cleanliness. Links with the local health services and hospitals is also important.
Spiritually the sisters benefit from daily Mass in the hospice and have their own prayer room and access to the convent chapel. They make good use of the EWTN (Global Catholic Network) programme which was particularly the case during the 50th Eucharist Congress, ‘attending’ more sessions than those of us who where present at the Congress in Dublin.
So to conclude, there is no official start or finish time to my role, but more a case of when and where required. The sisters will generally admit how fortunate they are, especially when they meet others at hospitals and heath clinics, and listen to their stories and struggles. As Sisters of Charity it is good to know that those ahead of us experience some of the hundredfold in the here and now.
(left to right) Srs Eithne, Helena, Celine, Carmel Bernadette, Marie, John Emmanuel and Joseph Brigid with staff members Criselda and Yvonne