“Love coming to life” is how the great Sr Maryanne Confoy reflects on the work of our people all across St Vincent’s in the first episode of Compassion, Courage, Consolation: Voices for St Vincent’s During COVID-19.
As I got ready to dial Sr Maryanne in from a spare room at home – a room that no one ever dreamed would become a makeshift studio – I had a moment to pause and reflect.
This wasn’t the Podcast the Mission team at St Vincent’s had planned. Recognising the incredible people who work in our services, back in January we’d decided to record a series profiling our staff and how – through their unique gifts, efforts, and their love for their work and those they serve – they are integral to the St Vincent’s story, and the advancement our Mission.
As the full extent of the pandemic and the impact on our services became clear, we quickly recognised that those very same staff who we planned to interview were going to be called upon to endure in offering their gifts, efforts, and love in service of those we care for and each other in extraordinary times.
What could we do to support them?
The word ‘love’ is used three times in the intro to Compassion, Courage, Consolation, a podcast in which we talk to people “who love St Vincent’s, love our staff, and love the service we provide in health and aged care.” These words capture the goals we wanted to achieve in our re-purposed podcast: as our people face this extraordinary set of challenges, let’s bring them some voices of those who love and appreciate them, and who can encourage them to endure in loving their work and those they serve in challenging times.
Compassion, Courage and Consolation are framing themes which help to identify what this love looks like as it comes to life at this time. Back to Sr Maryanne:
Mary Aikenhead began to see with new eyes the people around her. The poor, the suffering, the people who are marginalised. The people who nobody else saw. And that was love coming to life in her. And that’s what happens in every one of our St Vincent’s facilities: Love coming to life.
Listening through the nearly twenty episodes of the podcast so far one gets a very deep appreciation of the reality that Sr Maryanne reflects on here. Whether an episode features a doctor or nurse, an executive or a pastoral carer, a manager of food services or a manager of homeless health, a mission leader or a past patient, it’s very clear that love is a central disposition at St Vincent’s, and that it’s been coming to life in very special ways over the past few months.
That love includes both eyes to see the dignity of all we serve as well as each other, and the will to respond. It’s given rise to enormous creativity and generosity, not to mention incredible expressions of the Mission, some of which are included in this edition of Journeys. In a special episode which features a student and staff member of St Columba’s College, Essendon, it’s clear that this same charism lives in the education ministries too.
And this gets to the heart of my reflection on Compassion, Courage, Consolation. It’s been something like an unfolding diary of “love coming to life” during COVID-19 – its authors the many people who have been interviewed so far. Extraordinary as these reflections are, the most wonderful insight is that they’re not extraordinary at all. Love has always been coming to life across the ministries – it’s an ordinary feature of who we are. It’s more obvious when we’re in this challenging chapter of our history, but it’s always been there. And that’s what makes it love (not merely a sentiment or a passing fad) – because it’s that same disposition that we see coming to life again and again in the history of the ministries, from 1838 until today.
Dr Dan Fleming
Group Manager, Ethics and Formation
St Vincent’s Health Australia
You can tune in by searching for Compassion, Courage, Consolation wherever you find your podcasts.