FeaturesLast Page

Sister Mary Louise Mitchell

New director of pastoral care at St. Ann’s Community talks about spiritual care, career

By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

Q: What is your role as pastoral director?

A: I’m here to help take care of the spiritual needs of the residents. We believe that it is our responsibility to ensure their spiritual well-being because it is so vital in a person’s life. God’s love is present all around us and it’s essential in flourishing this community. The love and compassion we show one another must be present in everyone here in order to truly have a loving community and I am here to continue making that a central part of life here. The residents thrive here because they sense they have that experience here.

Q: What drew you to this role?

A: There has always been something about the elder community that I feel a connection with. When I was a young nurse, I met many older people and what I saw was a spark of wisdom and lifetime experience. As a society, I don’t think we always give elders the respect that they deserve. When you see someone who realizes they are in their final days, they recognize the essential parts of life and they see their deeper spiritual self. It is something that truly touches me. Not only do you learn so much from elders, you can sense the compassion they have for others. A sense of love is what we are all about at St. Ann’s.

Q: What have been some of your best moments during your career?

A: Whenever you are in profession that works with people first hand, you see so many incredible things. The moments I remember are the true, genuine interaction you have and it can be as simple as a conversation with someone. And dealing with my profession, you can see in their eyes something that is giving off life even when they are near death. You would be amazed at how there is so much hope and joy in times where you would think people would be frightened and disturbed. It is a sense that is hard to describe until you see it. It is a powerful experience to see someone let go when they know there is not anything they can do. It really does deeply affect you and it is one of the most humbling experiences that I have ever had.

Q: How do you think your nursing background has helped you in this role?

A: A few years back, I came to the thought that everyone has a hidden wholeness. I believe the wholeness of someone is the destiny we achieve as individual and it can lead to a greater understanding of life and what we can do. Being a nurse is just an extension of helping people in any way they need and sometimes helping them let go of anything that is blocking them from their true self. Nurses help people deal with whatever comes their way and are the backbone of healthcare.

Q: What are some of the most challenging moments of your career?

A: We all are going to die eventually and that can be very difficult for anyone to deal with, let alone during their final days. But what makes it challenging is that you realize that you are powerless to stop it. As humans, we like fixing things and having full control. It is not easy sitting there and watching someone suffer or die. Another aspect that makes it difficult is when you see someone who doesn’t have family with them on their last days. You become their family as you stand with them in their final days and hours. You want to be present for them and help comfort them.

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A: I am someone who loves to read. It just relaxes me. Another thing I love to do is just take nice long walks in nature. There is something about being in nature that is really enjoyable.

Leave a Reply