In Your Midst

The St. James MAPS Care Team

Spring 2001

In This Issue:
St. James Parish has accepted within its midst a new ministry of prayer and service: the Multi-Faith AIDS Project Care Team — MAPS, for short. This ministry is part of a larger, ecumenical program established by Multi-Faith Works to serve the needs of people living with AIDS.

Care Teams have been established in numerous faith communities in and around the Seattle area. With the spiritual support of their communities, volunteers over the years have come forward to attend the AIDS training seminars and discernment retreats, and to commit to service.

In early 2000, representatives from Multi-Faith and parishioners met with Father Ryan to discuss the possibility of establishing a Care Team at St. James. Father Ryan welcomed the idea. An announcement was made asking the parish for its spiritual support and for volunteers. A large number of parishioners took time to check out the “information groups” held after the Masses one weekend, with many people signing up to attend the MAPS training and discernment retreat. From this, St. James was blessed with ten people discerning a commitment to serve.

On the prayerful night of assessing abilities, the Care Team that now represents St. James expressed commitment to one another, to St. James, and to whomever MAPS would lead them to serve. Within one month they were invited to accept a Care Partner, and that Care Partner was invited to accept them. In that mutual “yes”, they became complete — a united team.

During the course of their journey, they will find themselves extending spiritual and social support to their Care-partner. And, should their Care-Partner’s health change, they will provide assistance with transportation, domestic chores, shopping, and meals. There will be times of quiet, of visiting, of remembering, and of healing.

In their journey thus far, they have shared meals, walks, stories, tears, laughter, and prayer. This is a non-judgmental ministry of presence and welcoming.

The Care Team and Care Partners extend their gratitude to the Parish and to Father Ryan for the spiritual support and for inviting this Ministry to become yet another example, within this wonderful community that is St. James, of Christ “in our midst”.

In this ministry, more so than all the others I have the privilege of working with, there is a unique quality to the relationship, presence, and prayer. We are each so different. We are long-time, newly baptized, and returning Catholics. We are healthy and struggling with health. Yet, in our faith commitment to one another, to share our strengths and acknowledge our needs, we are responding to the unifying presence of Christ suffering and Christ healing in our midst.

I was drawn to MAPS to deepen my relationship with God and the St. James Community. Being able to serve someone with AIDS is a privilege. I’ve already gotten so much from our Care Partner and his presence in my life.

— Tony Hansen, Care Team co-chair

I had just moved to Seattle and was looking for a way to serve the community. My wife, Beth, and I were attending Sunday Mass. Father Ryan’s homily that day was on ‘Faith Without Service.’ This was a subject Beth and I discussed often. Following Mass we attended the discussion on MAPS and St. James’ possible participation in the program. Beth and I looked at each other and nodded our heads acknowledging that this was what we’d been searching for. Truly, a message from God’s mouth to our ears.

— Scott Weaver, Care Team recorder

I was drawn to St. James the summer I moved to Seattle. I know now the Holy Spirit was guiding me. At the Easter Vigil in 2000, as I was anointed in Confirmation by Father Ryan, I knew I was home. Several months later, when Father Ryan announced St. James was looking for volunteers to participate in a Care Team for people with AIDS, I felt Christ calling me to serve. Through this experience I’ve found a new family, one that is full of diversity, wisdom, love, passion, and hope. The Lord continues to work in mysterious ways.

— Beth Weaver, Care Team co-chair

This group has blessed my life, confirming my faith and adding meaning to the words ‘Christian Fellowship’.

— Laurie, Care-Team

In meeting everyone on the Care Team, I meet Christ.

— Our Care Partner

Melina McCombs is a St. James parishioner, a Eucharistic Minister and a member of Emmaus Companions as well as a founding member of the MAPS team.

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