The Ministries of Counselling and Liturgical Service
Like many Sisters, Sister Terry Dalla has more than one ministry: she spends two days a week at Wellspring, a support center for cancer patients, then helps at Toronto Newman Centre on week-ends. She was happy to tell me more about her double life. "I make them [clients] feel as comfortable as possible, and thank them for coming."
When asked about Wellspring, Sr. Terry said, "Wellspring provides a wide range of support programs and services at no charge. These include emotional, psychological, spiritual, social and informational support for people who have been diagnosed with cancer."
When asked, "Who comes?" Sr. Terry replied, "People living with cancer, men and women of all ages, in treatment, newly diagnosed or in recovery. I first thank them for coming, as I know this first step can be the most difficult. We then take time, quite a bit of time, to allow the person to become comfortable and to build trust. I listen to their story, hear their feelings and fears, then offer some support. This might be a suggestion of finding the most suitable support group or a program such as The Healing Journey, or a therapeutic session such as Reiki, Yoga, Tai Chi or energy treatment. It is important to be sensitive to where this particular person is on the road to recovery. The ease with which they come to know what may be most helpful to them at the time is most gratifying They leave with a sense of hope, all from taking that first step at Wellspring.
Sister Terry tells the story of how she came to volunteer at Wellspring. "Some ten years ago, after cancer surgery and recovery, I still needed something to help me cope. Cancer patients often feel alone and not always understood. A friend mentioned Wellspring to me and some time later, passing the building on my way down the street, I found myself walking in the door. There I found what I had been missing. The warm and caring reception I received encouraged me to join a support group. Hearing how others were coping and living with cancer, listening to their stories of hope and joy at being alive made me decide to join the staff as soon as I felt well enough. My background as hospital Staff Chaplain was a good start for the training I received. I was accepted as a volunteer to the staff’s delight as well as my own. I’ve been there ever since."
Newman Centre is the Roman Catholic student centre and parish at the University of Toronto.
"I perceived the faithful living out of their Christian life."
"I have been a member of the Newman Centre, (St. Thomas Aquinas Parish) for twenty-three years. I was living in an apartment nearby and working at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. For the past fifteen years I have served on the Liturgy Committee, Pastoral advisory council and liturgical ministries. At the present time I also train the Eucharistic ministers, as shown in the photo, with follow-up retreats and workshops.
"I was drawn to Newman when I experienced how the faithful lived out their Christian life. A wonderful spirit of community pervades the students, families, people of all ages who come to share in the life of the parish.
"I feel it is a privilege to be part of such a vibrant parish, and an opportunity to share my CSJ commitment to religious life with the many students, parishioners, families and friends who also give life and meaning to our journey in faith."
By Mary Buckley CSJ
Photos by Gisela Côté