Spiritual Health in Evolution

February 11 2020

In the past year, spiritual health at St.Amant has seen a change, creating meaningful and personalized spiritual definitions and experiences for each person supported by the organization.

“The spiritual journey, is as unique as each person on it. There isn’t one way to engage in spirituality and that’s the work we’re doing. Rather than looking at it with a single lens, we’re approaching each person’s spirituality through three dimensions

  • The need to make personal meaning;
  • The need to come to an understanding of self; and
  • To appreciate the need and value of connections with others,” said Andrew Terhoch Spiritual Health Practitioner for St.Amant.

Everyone who receives services from St.Amant has the right to explore their spirituality as they see fit.  The goal of Spiritual health support is to help staff understand that it’s part of their role and that they have the knowledge and tools to understand how to support people in their spiritual journey.  For some, exploring spirituality may be spending time in nature, for others, it could be being with friends or engaging with organized religion, staff are encouraged and supported to provide opportunities to explore as many avenues of spirituality as the person supported would like.

While looking at personalized approaches to spirituality, staff person Wilson Cortes has taken a major role in enhancing some of the traditional Catholic offerings in the 440 River Road Chapel. Wilson started as a dedicated volunteer in spiritual services and is now a part-time staff person within spiritual services.

He has taken on this role with great passion and enthusiasm. With Wilson at the helm, there have been over 100 weeks of consecutive mass at the 440 River Road Chapel. One week, when the priest was unavailable to perform mass, Wilson received special approval from the Archbishop to perform as a lay minister. He’s developed new initiatives for the chapel that have excited and engaged the community. He’s started a choir, a parish council and has created a true sense of community for all who attend. He’s always looking at ways of including the people supported by St.Amant into all aspects of the chapel and Catholic offerings. For example, when the time came to decorate the chapel for Christmas celebrations, rather than just decorating himself, Wilson provided the congregation with the opportunity and supported them to participate. For some, it was holding the pieces of the manger, for others, walking up to the altar and changing the linen or simply feeling the different decorations in their hands. All the while, he explained the significance of each piece of decor for the Christmas celebration. It was a meaningful learning opportunity for everyone.

Many people supported by St.Amant enjoy attending mass at 440 River Road, as well as other religious ceremonies and celebrations in the community. Andrew said that he and Wilson encourage staff to be mindful, ask and take notice as to why participants enjoy engaging with the traditions and activities they do. “We want staff to really think, why do they like going to this event? Is it because they get to sit beside their friend? Or is it a time when they get to hear music? The work is trying to help figure out which aspect of this spiritual experience is meaningful for the person they’re supporting.”

Another goal for the Spiritual Health team is to combat loneliness by introducing people to organizations and activities in the community that could nourish their spirit and create a sense of belonging.

“We want to create a culture where staff feel like they’re entrusted with an important role, not only to assure safety and comfort, but to help the person they’re supporting grow, spiritually, and create meaningful connections with other people and groups in the community.”

Mass at 440 River Road happens every Sunday at 10AM, all are welcome to attend.

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