The heart of Mater—Mary’s story

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When Mary joined Mater as a Pastoral Carer more than nine years ago, she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“My role is unique in that I am here to be present for a patient, to listen, to respond. While I think it’s truly a reflection of our Mission in action, at first it was difficult to know where I fit within such a busy environment.”

It didn’t take long for Mary to find her place.

She landed on Wards 8A and 8B, Mater Hospital Brisbane, and has been there ever since.

“I remember one of my earlier cases quite well. I was paged to the ward because a young woman had received a difficult diagnosis. I went to her room, and shortly after introducing myself, her sister phoned, and she said ‘I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer and I’m standing here with a stranger,’ and that’s when the enormity of that situation hit home.

“I imagined myself in that position—being told your life would end, and being in a room with someone you’d never met. How does that not strike a chord?

“I remember her quite well. She wasn’t much for words, but I remember her often blowing me away with some of her thoughts and insights … I visited on a regular basis and became a familiar ally, and she asked me to attend her funeral when she passed away.”

“Yeah, that stuff, that stays with you.

“I think the thing with this role is, there is always another person and they each have their own unique story. On the one hand, it helps keep you busy so that you don’t focus too much on the heartbreak. There are many people that are alone or in need, and that is why the Pastoral Care Service is here, we can be there in those moments.”

Mary’s role allows her to help patients in a variety of ways—from sharing a cup of tea to helping navigate their way through the emotions of a day filled with tests, treatments and those ‘sick of being sick’ days—all of which are grounded in Mater’s Mission and Values to provide compassionate care to those who need it most.

Our Heart of Mater series showcases the stories of Mater People and patients which reflect Mercy in action, to coincide with the Holy Year of Mercy (8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016).