When “The Church as a Field Hospital” Becomes Reality
At a hospital in Louisiana, a young pharmacist is making his workplace a space for both physical and spiritual healing.
Many of us are already familiar with Pope Francis’ words on the Church being “a field hospital”, but how many of us are able to take that quote literally? Austin Verrett, a pharmacist at a hospital in Louisiana, was inspired after the Reach MoreTM mission training to bring Jesus into his workplace.
Austin was just your typical parishioner: raised Catholic, received all his sacraments, and went to Mass every Sunday. He was enjoying his family, his career, and his social groups. Everything in his life seemed to be in place. But two years ago, Austin began suffering from medical issues and was facing recovery time that could last from six months to a year.
He was disheartened by the prognosis, but didn’t know what to do about it. Soon after, Austin began experiencing “miraculous recovery time”—he recovered from his issue in six weeks instead of six months. He learned later that Masses had been offered for his recovery, and his pastor, Fr. Nathan Long, had been a large proponent of interceding in prayer for Austin’s health.
“After my recovery, I was full of so much energy, zeal, and this sense of reckless abandon,” Austin shared, “I didn’t know what to do with it. So when Fr. Long approached me to join the mission training, I was really moved by his invitation. I had never seen myself as a leader and I had never even participated in a small group, but God’s timing was perfect.”
The mission training proved to be a fruitful experience for Austin, and led him to a perspective shift in sharing his faith with others. “In high school, I thought stuff like [what I learned in the training group] was lame,” Austin laughs, “but when I heard these real people sharing real and oftentimes raw ways in which the Holy Spirit was working in their lives, I was really moved.”
Austin saw the training group and discerning his personal apostolate as the exact challenge that he needed. With his renewed energy and new paradigm about evangelization, he felt that God was going to show up. At the advice of Fr. Long, Austin launched a small group with his coworkers at the hospital. He wasn’t sure how his invitations would be received—most of his coworkers weren’t Catholic, and his workplace wasn’t the most open environment for discussions of faith.
He was amazed at the spiritual fruit that came from the simple six-week gatherings. Coworkers began approaching Austin with questions of faith. Many began asking him when they would meet again, some even wanting to branch off and host their own studies. One atheist coworker who had been curious about Austin’s study witnessed a patient’s last rites, with Austin accompanying them to explain the sacrament.
“It’s amazing to me how the Holy Spirit opened up the environment around faith at work,” Austin says. He is witnessing more of his peers openly discussing faith and praying with each other. And he’s excited to be hosting another upcoming small group at the enthusiastic request of his coworkers.
Prison Apostolate | A young Texas woman utilizes her mission training to minister to incarcerated women and those in reentry programs:
Bellah was seventeen when she began writing letters to women on death row in Texas three years ago. After completing the mission training in Spring 2022, she wanted to use what she learned to minister more deeply to women in prison and reentry programs. Now Bellah prays with and
accompanies women who are exiting the prison system.
Widows/Widowers Apostolate | A small community of widows and widowers in Illinois is coming together in support and fellowship:
Mission training has inspired Judy, a widow from Aurora, IL, to intentionally reach out to others in her community who have lost a spouse. These widows and widowers are brought together in mutual support and fellowship, and Judy wants to make sure that they are able to retain deep relationships and connection to a community.
Pool Apostolate | The Holy Spirit is inspiring a Wisconsin man to reach out to those who have fallen away from the faith:
Before mission training, Jim from Berlin, WI, always struggled to talk about his faith. After the training, he was motivated to dig deeper with others. He felt called to pray for and chat intentionally with a woman he sees regularly at the pool. After a few faith discussions with her, he learned that she was a fallen away Catholic who hadn’t been active in over eighteen years. She was encouraged to attend a daily Mass with Jim, which moved her to receive her first confession in almost two decades. She is now a parishioner at Jim’s parish.
Heart + Habits of Mission: Sanctify Ordinary Life
The only place we find God is in the day to day events of our lives. If we don’t find him there, where will we find him? The habit Sanctify Ordinary Life helps us to invite, notice, and respond to God’s presence in our lives each day. This habit of mission, first of all, connects us more deeply to Christ; but as we live more attuned to God’s presence, we also witness to others of the joy and strength of a life centered on Jesus.
Two short daily prayer habits can help you grow in responsiveness to God’s action in your life:
- Morning Offering A morning offering prayer gives your first thoughts of the day to God, bringing your day, and all of its unknowns to the Lord. Say a simple “good morning” to God as you wake up and offer your day to him in your own words, or use a scripted morning offering prayer, like the one below, to place your day at God’s feet.
- O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.
- Evening Examen Before bed, prayerfully review your day, asking God to show you moments when you responded generously to his invitations and moments you neglected or rejected his promptings.
- Ask for grace to see your day through God’s eyes. Invite God to be the leader of this prayer time.
- Review the events of your day hour by hour, slowing down at the significant moments and speeding through less significant ones, as God leads.
- Give thanks for the gifts and blessings you notice and the moments you responded to him with generosity. Ask forgiveness for sins and missed opportunities.
- Ask for any graces or help you need for tomorrow.