For 10 weeks in this summer, four Catholic seminarians had the opportunity to serve with the chaplain ministry team at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in downtown Grand Rapids. Three of them, Andrew Ayers, Michael Goodwin and Robert Mulderink, are newly-ordained (May 2018) transitional deacons for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. The fourth seminarian is Jacob McDaniel from the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. In August, the Deacons will be returning for their fourth year, and Jacob will be entering his third year at Mundelein Seminary.
The past 10 weeks have been filled with a variety of ministry experiences that are preparing these seminarians to serve as parish priests. What follows are brief reflections about how this summer at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has had an impact on each of them:
Deacon Andrew Ayers:
It’s good to do the work I was ordained to do.
Deacon Michael Goodwin:
“The opportunity to serve at the hospital this summer has given me a deeper sense of what we are called to as Deacons and eventually, priests. It has been good to draw near to people in the hospital and to hear their stories and pray with one another. I feel very comfortable now visiting people in this setting, and I am mindful of how important it is to visit people when they need hospital care. This summer has also deepened my appreciation of all the different people who work and serve in our hospitals. They give so much of themselves for the care of others. This is a witness that I pray I carry with me in serving people as a parish priest.”
Deacon Rob Mulderink:
“This time at the hospital has been an opportunity to be deeply submersed each day in the part of parish ministry that is hardest to teach in a classroom and easy to neglect behind other more routine responsibilities. It’s hard to put a name to — but it’s being stopped in the hallway, and being available for the unexpected, being for another person, listening to them, giving them your attention. At the hospital I have experienced the hard work and the joy of that part of ministry.”
Jacob McDaniel, seminarian from the Diocese of Gary, Indiana:
“The internship at St. Mary’s has provided me with perspective not only on how to minister to parishioners in the hospital, but also on the challenges and blessings of working in direct and indirect patient care in a hospital setting. Over and over again, I saw so many different people in different roles in the hospital truly sacrifice themselves for the well-being of their patients.”