By Carol Incarnacao-Schirm
Writing about myself does not come naturally to me—I don’t keep a diary and hardly ever journal. But I was asked to give a glimpse into the work of the foundation from my point of view, which inevitably means writing a first person account of sorts.
Yet, I’m grateful for the assignment from Foundations in Faith’s director Kelly Weldon because the work that is done by our small two-person team underlies a wide range of important pastoral care initiatives throughout our diocese. And writing about the importance of pastoral care I will certainly try.
I don’t think listing and describing the tasks I complete on any given day, or reporting on my various interactions with ministers of our faith would make for a very interesting read. I choose instead to make our foundation in faith the topic of this piece: the very reason that brought me to Foundations in Faith in the first place.
Our faith, in this Lenten season, asks us to pay special attention to almsgiving: to perform acts of charity, including the giving of money and goods to the poor and the needy. In pondering almsgiving, I find myself asking rhetorically, who indeed are the poor, the needy?
Of course, our society encompasses undeniable economic inequities that makes the poor in the financial sense among us easy to identify. But I’ve been thinking a lot about those among us who are poor in spirit. Spiritual poverty is also an opportunity for almsgiving.
Pope Benedict XVI once said “Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy; rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtual that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbor, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who, dying on the cross, gave his entire self for us.”
In terms of my work, I like to think that managing the grant process for the foundation is but a small aspect of what I do. What matters to me most is the intention I put into the emails, phone calls, meetings, and projects I execute. My intention is give over all the skills I’ve gathered in my previous professional roles to make pastoral care accessible to those who need it, to those who seek it, so that many more can know and love Jesus as I do.
During this season of Lent, those spiritually hungry among us have been occupying a special place in my heart and in my prayers. There is so much confusion these days about our God-given dignity, our inherent worth and, above of all, where it all comes from. In pondering what Pope Benedict said, I think also of what Jesus said on the cross: I thirst. His thirst wasn’t just physiological, it was an expression of his love for us—he thirsts for us.
Which is why I consider my role with Foundations in Faith important, because pastoral care is feeding those who hunger, those who thirst.