My name is Sister Fulgence Mvunzi, I am of Congolese nationality, and I am currently in charge of the pastoral area at the “Sainte Marie de Cambrai” clinic of the Sisters Hospitallers in France.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the volunteer team lost their right to visit the sick at the clinic. Not even the chaplain could make visits. The monitoring of families, grieving over the death of their loved ones, was also not authorized.
Fortunately, the medical staff showed great humanity. In order to be in contact with the clinic’s patients, I sent the director some drawings made by the students of the Jean-Paul II school. With this gesture, the intention was to encourage the patients, give them support and tell them that we were with them. The director sent those drawings to each service and replied the following: “What a beautiful message of support! Thank you very much for your kindness and congratulations to the children of the Jean-Paul II school for their magnificent drawings. They are a consolation for all”.
Upon hearing his response, I telephoned the director to explain how I intended to continue with my mission, adapting to the new circumstances. My goal was to maintain the link with the sick, with their families and with the health personnel.
After our conversations, the Directorate sent an email to all the units of the center, in order to satisfy the spiritual needs of the sick, as well as the requests for the sacraments that they and their families expressed … I still remember the director’s recommendation:
“Ensure the maintenance of the visits, that the chaplain can offer comfort, especially to those in their last days. It is something that must be organized ”.
“Propose that Sister André Marie, who is part of the chaplaincy, take charge of this mission in the clinic.”
“All this respecting the hygiene and safety standards, in each intervention, within the services.”
Our engine has always been hope
Since then, we have lived through a very painful period, full of anguish. But our engine has always been hope! It is hope that allows us to continue to move forward with confidence, without getting discouraged, taking care of our brothers.
In the palliative care service, I accompany the sick in their last days, and with my presence, I try to offer comfort, to them and their families, at such an important moment in their existence. On many occasions I receive requests for the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, in addition to communion.
The message of Pope Francis during the XXIX World Day of the Sick in 2021 invites us to know how to stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and emotion for him or her, to let ourselves be touched by their suffering (Lc10, 30-35)
During this very difficult period, we tried to be the best version of ourselves, to offer a pastoral that listens and accompanies through three essential dimensions: to bear witness, to announce and to celebrate.