This Sunday, April 15th, Pastor Mark and the deacons will Commissioned Rev. Maureen Ausbrook with authority to serve our church in a Ministry of Visitation. There was a “laying of hands” on Rev. Maureen during Sunday’s worship; this is a sacred moment where all present are asked to participate in this very special commissioning, asking God’s grace upon Rev. Maureen and all of those she serves.
Under Pastor Mark’s guidance and supervision, Rev. Maureen will assume responsibility for spiritual care to the homebound, as well as those in hospital & other facilities, including hospice. She will be the on-call minister for emergencies and hopes people will call her when they or anyone in their family is in crisis in the Emergency Room, or to meet with them and their families before and after surgery. Rev. Ausbrook will make regular written reports to the deacons and Pastor Mark, and notify Mark about any matters requiring his immediate attention. Naturally, all rules of confidentiality apply and private discussions with Maureen will be in confidence, just as they would be with Pastor Mark. Reporting will be of a generic nature.
Before the end of May, Mark and Maureen hope to have made visits to everyone who is unable to attend church regularly, wherever they may reside, so that Mark can introduce Maureen to them and their families or other caregivers. The creation of this very special ministry began when Mark and Maureen started asking each other very simple but important questions, such as Maureen to Mark à“How can I help you as pastor of this church? What might I be able to take off your plate that could allow you more time to focus on other things that you do best or duties that require more attention from you, attention that only you can give?” and Mark to Maureen - “What is your vision of your ministry? How can I help you, mentor you, as a relatively new minister, but also as someone who brings to the table many other life skills and experiences?”
These questions set the tone for many conversations over the course of several months – a period of prayer, reflection, and discernment for both Mark and Maureen. They agree it was a period that strengthened their professional respect and trust in each other; a period where they learned about each other’s life journeys and personalities and gained insight into where they each are now at this point in their lives, as well as their roles and obligations to Waterville UCC. (Maureen has a visiting ministry at the Oak Grove Center that is not a part of this Ministry of Visitation at Waterville UCC.)
Maureen was born and raised in Chicago, moved to Kennebunk, Maine 7 years ago and recently to Waterville. She is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and All Paths Divinity School in LA (ordination track with M.Div.). Maureen was ordained an Interfaith minister in April 10, 2016 and holds degrees in history with specialized post grad training in clinical medical ethics (Loyola University Medical Center). Her areas of specialization as a historian are Holocaust studies, European fascism, and the history of medicine. She is an expert in U.S. and European eugenic programs, unethical experimentation, coercive sterilization, physician-assisted suicide and at-risk populations in U.S. healthcare (with emphasis on end-of-life ethics of care).
Maureen taught history and philosophy (including courses re: death & dying, religion, and medical ethics) at several community colleges and in the Department of Medical Humanities at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine. She has also been an ethics/conflict-of-interest analyst at a large multinational law firm. Maureen is a published novelist and author and accomplished blogger. She recently taught as a community teacher at The New School in Kennebunk where she is also on their Board of Directors. She is passionate about many things: human and civil rights, animal rights, economic injustice, inequities in healthcare, and climate change.
Maureen was recently widowed and now shares her home with 4 rescued pets, a dog and three cats. Her message to our church is this: “I have no retirement plan other than my ministry which, God willing, I hope to do until the day I drop. I’m ready for the new phase of my life, serving through the lens of ordination. I feel a special call to serve those who are grieving and struggling to cope with their changed circumstances, especially because of age, illness, disability and loss of loved ones, even loss of their pets. Sometimes, that’s the last indignity: The elderly having their beloved pets taken from them. They’re told they can’t care for them anymore… while that may be true, it is no less tragic. I prefer chaplaincy serving in nursing homes to hospital chaplaincy because it allows me more time to build relationships and when I’m in a long-term care facility the emotion I witness the most is mourning over the loss of a pet, often even more than the loss of family and spouses. People can accept the death of a pet but separation while they are alive is especially devastating. When I bring my dog I see eyes light up and then hear the <sigh> and so often hear “I’m so old and useless now, I can’t even keep a cat safe” or “there is nothing I miss more than my dog (or cat or bird).” I don’t know how to respond to this other than to ask if I can hug them or hold their hand. Everyone wants a hug but most of all they want to pet Shadow. He always finds the person who most needs to pet him that day. I’ll have to figure out where I can take Shadow when I visit people from this church, but if I can take him with me, I will.
I’m honored to be a member of this church, a church I feel at home in for so many reasons, and so blessed to have a pastor like Mark so willing to let me help him and the church. I’m very thankful to the deacons for approving this ministry and look forward to developing it and maybe even expanding it with lay volunteers. Please, let’s get to know each other! You don’t have to be sick to talk to me, right?
My email is email@example.com and my phone is 616 3393; you can also text me at 251 7543.