A letter from Mildmay’s longstanding Lead Chaplain, Sister Bernie Devine, to our Chaplaincy friends and colleagues who have sadly, and for several reasons, come to the end of their service at our hospital.
“Let me begin my tribute to my chaplaincy colleagues who have decided to move on, following the changes which occurred at Mildmay before, and during the COVID-19 Pandemic, with this poem.
“Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome.to shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.All over the world people are slowing down and reflectingAll over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new wayAll over the world people are waking up to a new realityTo how big we really are.To how little control we really have.To what really matters… To Love.So we pray and we remember thatYes there is fear, But there does not have to be hate.Yes there is isolation. but there does not have to be loneliness.Yes there is sickness, but there does not have to be disease of the soul
YES there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love.Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.Today, breathe. Listen, behind the factory noises of your panicThe birds are singing again. The sky is clearing, Spring is coming,And we are always encompassed by Love. Open the windows of your soulAnd though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing.”
As you know it grieves me that it is not possible to gather now or indeed, in the near future, to celebrate all that you have all given to Mildmay. I know that our God is never outdone in generosity and will reward you for your loving kindness in caring for our patients, clients, staff and visitors at Mildmay.
The door is always open should you feel safe enough or so inclined to return to us!
Dear John, Doug, Kevin, Pavla, (another) John and Keith
You encompassed Mildmay with almost 90 combined years of loving service given freely to patients, clients, staff and visitors. You each sang a song of respect, of dignity, listening, praying and celebrating before deciding that for you, it is time to say ‘au revoir’ as you move on to pastures new.
Your commitment over the years cannot be measured. It is so incredibly sad for those of us still here, that we were unable to celebrate and mark the occasion of your withdrawing from Mildmay. As Doug said, ‘there is never a right time or a wrong time’ and at present, it is a sad time. As you can imagine, I feel particularly at a loss that you are no longer my colleagues at Mildmay, walking with me and our Mildmay companions. Life for all of us has changed so suddenly and is completely different.
You have decided to retire from Mildmay and you are irreplaceable. We shall miss you so much as indeed will the patients and staff. They loved seeing you arriving on a Friday evening. Your great, big all-embracing smile lit up the evening when you arrived at Mildmay. You and Doug together have given almost 50 years of service.
You have made up your mind that now is the time for you to conclude your voluntary services at Mildmay. You celebrated the Wednesday Eucharist with as much enthusiasm I’m sure as when you officiated at your first Eucharist after your Ordination. Your innate compassion and your willingness to be present when patients were making their final journey were gifts to Mildmay. Thank you also for the Healing Prayer Services for which you gathered a little team to pray with us. You reminded us Who we can turn to when we are in need of forgiveness of healing. Those times remain in my heart, Doug.
Kevin and John
I bless the day you both decided to come to Mildmay. Our clients crowded into your Friday Services and appreciated the time you spent individually with so many of them.
I miss our Friday chats, Kevin. It was so apparent that you had spent time reflecting on the Word of God before sharing the same with us. You did this so conscientiously each time we alternated leading our prayer time.
John, the clients trusted you implicitly as you cajoled, encouraged and listened while taking them to and from the chapel. You and Kevin knew their needs, and foibles. Your non-judgemental approach paved the way for lots of chats and heart-to-hearts! Week after week you both gave priority to spending time with our patients and Day Clients. A word here, a joke there, a blessing and a prayer when approached for one, lifted their spirits and mine!
A constant companion to those whom we walked with in Day Services. Your skills as a pianist and as a singer were put to wonderful use during our chapel Services and on many other special occasions. Thank you for all that you have given to Mildmay during your time here.
It is so good to know you have now arrived safely in the Czech Republic and are very content to be at home in your own country. You took with you your hauntingly, beautiful singing voice that reverberated around the wards and chapel taking us to another plane!
Finally, with a heavy but grateful heart I acknowledge that you are very sadly missed and will always be missed by me personally, while I am the Lead Chaplain at Mildmay.
The whole team joins with me in praying and hoping that each of you and those you love will be blessed and granted peace in abundance.”
Cover photo by Johannes Plenio