MINISTRY PLACEMENT DURING PANDEMIC
Field placements in ministry settings are central to the education at Dio, and a crucial part of the In Ministry Year. Even in the midst of a pandemic, field placements continued. Here, graduating student Linda Moore reflects on how her field placement helped her in her continued discernment in ministry.
My field placement experience at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Littleton, New Hampshire served to clarify my sense of vocation as a bivocational ordained priest. My vision for bivocational ministry is to be part time in the hospital lab where I have had a long career as a lab tech and part time serving in a parish in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont where I live. I also continue to feel called to a mix of hospital and veterinary chaplaincy.
I was able to deepen this sense of vocation because one of the learning goals I set for myself in my field placement was to improve my pastoral care ministry through more experience in hospital and home visits. Covid restrictions made hospital and home visits difficult. At the same time, however, I was working part-time in my hospital lab. Through theological reflections and reflection with my supervisor and my lay committee, I came to realize that I have a valid and helpful ministry of pastoral care with my coworkers in the hospital lab. Many of them experience increased stress now that Covid testing is being done in our own lab. This stress often spills over into family life, causing tension there as well. Some struggle with their own personal issues. To my surprise, many feel more comfortable talking with me about these issues than with an employer-sponsored counselor. Some specifically ask for prayers, including a self-declared nihilist who had major surgery.
Meanwhile at All Saints’, the clergy and I adapted and were flexible in these pandemic times. I’ve seen how Zoom coffee hour brought joy and a sense of connection to these parishioners. I learned how this was actually a time of pastoral care for folks. I have grown in my preaching, becoming more relaxed and natural even when recording sermons for pre-recorded Sunday services. Despite the pandemic, this year has been helpful for me in clarifying my vocation and teaching me new ministry skills.