Throughout Lent, the office of Evangelisation and Catechesis are delighted to offer weekly stories of accompaniment & the Hope, Faith, Joy, and Love of Christ from the lay faithful of our diocese in the journey of Missionary Discipleship.

The second reflection is by Jemima Thompson.

Jemima Thompson graduated from University in November 2022. She grew up in Penryn Cornwall. Jemima went to St Mary’s RC School in Falmouth and worshipped at St Mary’s Catholic Church. There have been many events and people that have deepened her faith, most significantly the tragic loss of a childhood friend and her 2016 pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Krakow.  She now lives and worships in Bristol. Please pray she will lead many souls to Jesus.

As a newly qualified paramedic, I with my crewmate recently attended an elderly lady in a Care Home.

We had been there just a few moments when the lady passed away. We sat beside her quietly for a few moments.

I have been to a number of dying patients since I began my training more than three years ago, and it is always a profound moment when they pass. I always pray for them, usually with “eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May the soul of the faithful departed rest in peace” I expect you know it.

Recently though I came across the beautiful prayer that Priests say. It begins “Go forth, Christian soul, from this world in the name of God the almighty Father who created you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God who suffered for you, in the name of the Holy Spirit who was poured out upon you, go forth, faithful Christian.” I expect you know it.

I wanted to say the prayer for this lady, but I wasn’t sure if she was a Christian. I checked around her neck for a crucifix and looked around the room, but I didn’t see anything, until I noticed that her Get Well cards were religious. I decided then that it was probably Okay so I asked my crewmate if he would mind if I went ahead. I knew that he was a non-believer because we have had a number of amicable conversations about God previously.

I stood beside the lady and recited the prayer from my phone. I finished up quietly singing that lovely hymn with the refrain ”may the choirs of Angels come to greet you, may they lead you to paradise” I expect you know it.

Finishing our duties, we were writing up our reports waiting for the police to arrive when there was a knock at the door. A lady stood there she explained to me that she had been to see her friend earlier in the day but had realised she was probably in her final hours and had felt strongly to come back. I explained gently that her friend had died and invited her in. She sat beside her friend holding her hand. She kept saying God Bless you my friend it has been such a blessing knowing you.

Then she turned to me and told me about her dear friend. Anne (name changed) was a lifelong Christian; in fact, she was a deaconess in the Baptist Church and her faith was everything to her. Many of the Church community had been frequent visitors this past week.

I was amazed and relieved and I told her about my prayers and the dilemma I had had. She started to cry and said “God sent you, what a blessing! Anne got exactly what she would have wanted!” She was so grateful and hugged me thanking me over and over.

On our way back to the Ambulance my crewmate turned to me and said “I wouldn’t say I’m an atheist. I can’t say I believe, but I think I am open to it”.

Working as a paramedic has brought me face to face with the reality that death is a part of life that we all have to face. Being with people during their final moments is an incredible privilege and has taught me that life is sacred and a precious gift. It is so easy when things are going well to forget that God is real, He is the giver of life and loved us into existence.  He thirsts for us “I thirst” and waits to receive our souls and bring us home.

Fr. Jon Bielawski has been a priest for 32 years. He heads up the department of Evangelisation and Catechesis for the diocese and is co-founder of Genesis Mission for the formation of Missionary disciples. You can hear more of Fr Jon’s encounters here https://podcast.genesismission.co.uk/

If you would like to engage in the diocesan formation for Missionary Disciples email Jonathan.bielawski@prcdtr.org.uk