One of the most appealing aspect of Jesus’ ministry was his attention to those who were ill in body, mind, or spirit. Even when faced with ridicule or censure, Jesus ministered to those who needed his gift of healing. No person was too young, too old, too diseased, too poor, too wealthy, too familiar, or too foreign to merit his attention. Jesus gave his followers a mandate to heal the ill, and the early Church took that mandate seriously.
Many Christian communities today also want to take that mandate seriously, but don’t know how to go about it. Health care is so complicated, and there are so many different diseases and legal liabilities. Where does a parish begin when it seeks to initiate or further develop their health ministry?
Even the term “health ministry” means different things to different congregations. Health ministry can take multiple forms – depending on the parish, its needs, its human resources, and its budget. Some parishes function very well with several dedicated Eucharistic ministers who assist the clergy by making visits to the ill and the homebound. Other larger parishes have a paid staff person who both coordinates and makes such visits. Some parishes have volunteer parish nurses from among their members, while others employ full-time or part-time parish nurses to manage this ministry. A few parishes share the financial cost, time, and services of a paid parish nurse with each other. Still other parishes partner with a local hospital who provides the services of a part-time parish nurse who divides her time among several congregations.
What model is right for your parish? This self-assessment is designed to help your parish determine its needs and its resources – human and budgetary. In completing this self-assessment, try to ascertain the best numbers possible for each category so that the most accurate picture of a health ministry at your parish can be drawn. After you have completed this self-assessment, see the directions at the end for additional steps you can take.
A Self-Assessment to Determine Health Ministry Needs and Resources (Adobe Acrobat Format) – Download the self-assessment survey for your parish.