In July 2015, Diocese of Lafayette seminarian, David Rozas, Third Year Theology student at Notre Dame Seminary, was in the midst of his summer Clinical Pastoral Care Immersion program sponsored by the Lafayette Diocese Vocation Office, when he experienced the true magnitude of the duties of a hospital chaplain. He wrote of his experience in his seminary’s newsletter and also shared it with lafayettevocations.org.
PASTORAL CARE FOR THE GRAND SHOOTING
On the evening of July 23rd, 2015 I was tested, I along with the formation, which I received from the Clinical Pastoral Immersion program I was in as well as from St. Joseph and Notre Dame Seminaries. I noticed on the news feed on the computer that there was another shooting at a theatre in the U.S. It did not click right away that it was about five minutes away from where I was in a Lafayette rectory. I put on my collar, jacket and hospital badge and drove to the local hospital, adrenalin beginning to flow.
It seems that I walked right in on the situation a mother and father, aunt and uncle, grandmother and grandfather would dread most of all: their beloved child, dead, and the family not being able to even hold her body right then and there. Right before I walked out of the parking garage, the family received the news that Mayci was indeed dead in the theatre.
I met an aunt who was worried if Mayci had been anointed. Not being able to do anything, I said “How about we pray right now? Would you like that; we can pray for her soul right now?” The family, Fr. Boyer and I went to the chapel, about twenty-five people filling the chapel. Before the reposed Blessed Sacrament, Father led just a couple prayers from the pastoral care of the sick. I then lead the family in praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for Mayci’s soul as well as that of the shooter’s. At many points there were intense sobbing and crying from those gathered. This prayer was very beneficial for them and for me to express our love and trust in God’s never failing mercy during this crazy and non-sensical situation. My director and I then just sat with them.
This experience really solidified for me the indispensable “ministry of presence” as we call it. Showing them the Lord is already present with them and wants to share intimately in this time of pain and unknowns. When I began Seminary, I looked forward to “Bringing Christ to people and people to Christ,” but now I wish to show them “The Face of Mercy,” as stated by Pope Francis, which is already closer to them than they are to themselves. I noticed myself living and feeling the fatherly and shepherding role of the priest.
This was quite a vocation-check; I look forward to continuing my studies and preparing for the particular gifts of grace that come from when I am soon, God willing, configured to Christ in the Sacrament of Orders.
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