SFX altar servers reach out to hospice patientspublished by The Catholic New on July 31, 2011
Left and below: Altar servers from the Church of St Francis Xavier spent time interacting with Assisi Hospice patients during the June school holidays.
Altar servers from the Church of St Francis Xavier spent time with cancer patients at Assisi Hospice recently.
The objective of the outreach was to expose the youths to service within the wider community and strengthen the bonds among them, said Mr Raphael Ng, 21, an altar server and coordinator for the programme.
The 90 altar servers divided themselves into five groups, with each group spending a day at the hospice, located on Thomson Road, during the June holidays.
In the morning, the volunteers learnt about the hospice and the topic of death. They also learnt practical skills such as hygiene and infection control, the use of wheelchairs and how to interact with the patients.
The volunteers then spent time with the patients in the afternoon.
Those in lower secondary and primary school played games and served the day-patients with tea and snacks, with the older boys serving as guides. Some of the older boys also spent time with the inpatients.
Apart from the outreach, the altar servers had also sold tickets for the hospice’s Charity Fun Day, held on June 19, and made “gifts of love” in the shape of flowers containing encouraging messages. These were presented to the patients.
The altar boys said the outreach was a memorable learning experience.
Geoffrey Tan, 16, said he could see God’s love at work in the patients through their optimism and their efforts to interact with the volunteers.
However, one of the challenges he faced was the language barrier as some patients could only converse in dialects or Malay.
Nevertheless, the boys overcame this by working in groups, with each person chipping in to interpret and translate whatever he could.
For one patient who was unable to speak, the volunteers used cards to communicate.
Andre Dumont, 12, said he realised that service to God extends beyond one’s service to the parish.
Small acts, such as spending time with the hospice patients could “make a difference”, and this was something that “even primary school kids” could do, he said.
He added that he hopes for another similar outreach as helping others makes him “feel happy inside”.
The other volunteers also said that they would like to return to Assisi Hospice as volunteers.
Mr Shawn Wong, 21, another outreach coordinator, told CatholicNews that one altar server even signed up to be a volunteer at the hospice.
Assisi Hospice staff also gave positive feedback on the volunteers. They said the boys were enthusiastic and caring towards the patients, which more than made up for the language hurdles.
The older servers also acted as good role models for the younger boys.
Assisi Hospice, a Catholic charity, provides palliative care to adults and children with life-limiting illnesses.
By Darren Boon