By Isabelita Q Boquiren, BCC
The whirlwind of new changes in healthcare delivery, systemic or otherwise, compels us to hold in ever greater light, the light of the Spirit, that which has drawn us all together — a life of service in the healing ministry with others as well as with Christ. On reflecting far beyond the healthcare changes from my corner of the world in Nogales, AZ, on the U.S.-Mexico border, I contend that the greater gift is opening a way of listening and acting to use creative resources already present by the very nature of our call to discipleship.
This call presupposes mindfulness, change of heart, new ways of seeing and responding, and good use of wisdom in stewardship and mission. Self-renewal is critical to collaboration. As we listen, think about our response to changes ahead, and determine how to act, Matthew 7 reminds us: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like the wise man who built his house on a rock. The rains fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house, but it did not collapse; it has been set on solid rock.”
Collaboration indeed is built on God’s abiding assurance –“whenever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). This is a promise of great significance to all of us on this journey of service.
Self-renewal involves listening and looking deep within the inner self. It is also a change of heart or conversion to move towards good, who is God. It is what someone says “is like opening a door both ways.” It allows one to see more clearly the inner self and it allows one to see the context of ministry in new ways with clarity and purpose.
A little historical study of the lives of saints who trail blazed this very same journey points us to a practice chaplains are most familiar with – spiritual direction. Collaboration is built into the very structure of it. The relationship between God and the directee is not done alone. A guide who companions the directee collaboratively works to help and be sensitive to the Spirit’s movements and arrive at a discerning interpretation of these movements for spiritual growth.
In Nogales, AZ, Holy Cross Hospital, two Catholic parishes and Catholic schools have collaborated in the realm of spiritual direction, with the chaplain supporting the clergy. In turn, the local pastors collaborate with the hospital’s spiritual life by providing sacramental ministry to patients and staff or offering a day of reflection or officiating at blessings at hospital events. The board members of the hospital, together with community leaders, network and share community resources in efforts to work toward the common good.
Shared responsibility or inquiry in a collaborative setting fosters contemplative dialogue, a focused mindful gathering of people listening and acting toward mutual dependence for the benefit of all. The people involved are drawn to the benefits of collaboration, namely, openness, humility, determination to seek the truth and the good of a community. These qualities, in turn, deepen human relationships with powerful insights and vision.
Although Nogales is a hamlet when compared to other urban areas in Arizona, the community leaders have accepted a stance of redefined roles in which everyone’s gifts, talents and expertise are appreciated and respected. These same community leaders also have demonstrated a welcoming collaboration with religious leaders, working together with innovative ideas to alleviate the suffering of people who cross the borders by providing basic needs intervention, education, spiritual counseling and medical assistance. Holy Cross Hospital collaborates with the Border Patrol for proper medical treatment of undocumented brothers and sisters and providing them with psychosocial and spiritual support.
This process of increased collaboration by way of self-renewal, redefinition of leadership, shared responsibility and inquiry creates harmony by integrating the lived reality of people and understanding situations, providing opportunities to break down differences and barriers. It reinforces in community leaders and clergy the belief that everyone matters, and each person is a special gift of God. To the chaplain, collaboration is a means to connect God’s presence in all things and a reminder that life is about mission and ministry, life and love.
Isabelita Q Boquiren, chaplain and patient advocate at Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales, AZ, is a member of the NACC Editorial Advisory Committee.