“In hospice care, spirituality is one of the most important issues in a person’s life,” states Sr. Catherine Higgins, CSJ, LSW, Hospice Social Worker. “Hospice nurses (including the ones I’ve worked with so closely at Celtic) are excellent at symptom management and pain control. It is my belief that they manage this mainly for the person to be able to do their inner work.” A person is not able to address these issues if they are in pain, so hospice nurses make the way for servants like Sr. Catherine to go in and work “interiorly.”
Sr. Catherine knew she wanted to be a Sister since she was six years old and never wavered in her desire to enter religious life. She started out her career as a school principal before entering hospice. While working as a school principal, Sr. Catherine’s mom became terminally ill after suffering from a massive stroke. When her doctor gave Mom two weeks to two months to live and having no available hospice care, Sr. Catherine brought Mom to the convent to live with her and the other Sisters. They cared for her around the clock, but ultimately it was Mom who ministered to all of them. The most important thing Sr. Catherine learned from this experience was the ministry of PRESENCE. Though Mom couldn’t do much more than just “be there” with people as they were given the opportunity to provide the gift of mercy through feeding, bathing, and physically “pivoting” her, it was Mom who listened and consoled and was told profoundly deep and personal things that people felt absolution from after sharing.