Casa de la Luz Foundation Connects with Tucson Clergy Community

| By Jodi Horton

By Rev. David Fife, Hospice Chaplain

Leaders from faith communities around Tucson gathered at the Westward Look on September 19 for a complimentary breakfast hosted by Casa de la Luz Foundation and Interfaith Community Services. The goal was to bring greater awareness of the need for our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, sanghas and other communities to minister with their members who are facing death; to recognize and respect that as one’s body diminishes, one’s spiritual and emotional self can broaden and deepen.

Bonnie Kampa, Director of ICS, and Frank Williams, director of Social Services at Casa de la Luz Hospice, welcomed everyone to the morning and helped highlight the importance of the presentation. A panel of hospice professionals including a physician, social worker, and chaplain provided information, answered questions, and led a discussion focused on issues that individuals and families face as one nears end of life.

The agencies provided resources to help congregations educate themselves and then better prepare to serve their members at a sacred time in life. Participants learned about advance directives and about ways to talk about dying and death with their congregants, discovered community and online resources to assist in their ministry, gained skills of how to listen and respond to those who are seriously ill, and heard a presentation on common symptoms and hospice comfort care that is provided at end of life.

Those in attendance provided feedback on the morning together and suggestions for next steps. Leaders in our community said they needed support to help them begin discussions in their congregations to prepare for death and minister with the dying. Others asked for more information about hospice care and additional resources for preaching and worship. Casa de la Luz Foundation will work with congregations to provide speakers for adult education classes.

While we sought to educate leaders in our faith community about the opportunities and issues at end of life, we learned a great deal from the attendees. We learned of the desire for more information and resources about these important discussions. We discovered that there is a hunger for open dialogue as we seek to face our living and our dying faithfully. We in our faith traditions and communities make promises to one another. We promise to raise our children in the faith, to nurture one another, to educate, to comfort and to support each other. We also recognize that our promise is not fulfilled unless we provide the compassion and care to our members who are facing death.

Last September we began a dialogue that goes to the heart of each of our faith traditions. We are inviting others to join the discussion so that together we may best provide this vital ministry to those who face end of life in our communities.

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