We all experience times when our suffering can be overwhelming. Those times often coincide with times when we also feel the most alone. For the ministers in the BeFriender Ministry, reaching out to others in periods of isolation and pain is their mission. Ultimately, the ministers’ goal is to be present with those who need the support of a listening friend.
“We visit with members of our parish who have lost a loved one, or perhaps they are going through a divorce,” says Stefanie Kutschkau, one of the BeFriender ministers. “There are a lot of different things that people experience that they may need a little extra support from the church and we are here to be that for them.”
Stefanie had realized a need in the parish to support those who are suffering in different ways and when she contacted the parish office, they happily informed her that they have a group that does just that.
“Especially after COVID, there is such a disconnect between people,” she says. “I think it is important to be not just a member of the parish, but an active member of the parish! Jesus called us all to be servants and we are supposed to reach out and serve others.”
The ministers undergo training to learn how to best support those in need.
“We go through a lot of classes and much of that is really learning about yourself and what kind of judgments you may have within your own heart,” Stefanie says. “You go through these classes as a group so you really develop a bond with your fellow ministers. Once you finish the training and are given a person to visit, you typically visit with them once a month. Everything we hear is confidential, so it is a safe space.”
BeFriender Ministers usually visit with a person in their homes or wherever they are most comfortable. In order to build the relationship, typically they commit to visiting with them monthly for three years. Sister Bernadette is the head of this ministry, so the ministers will reach out to her if they find that the person with whom they are visiting needs more help or support.
Stefanie has been visiting with one woman for about a year.
“She was so involved in the church and she has a great faith,” she says. “Our relationship has been a blessing to me as well.”
The BeFriender Ministry is an opportunity to support others going through difficult times in their life in a very tangible way. It is a special way to love our fellow parishioners and be able to be there for them.
To serve with the BeFriender Ministry, or if you or someone you know could benefit from having a minister visit, contact Sister Bernadette Engelhaupt at 308-384-0532, ext. 202.