I would like to share with you a note from Robert Gekle, a resident of Vero Beach who finds interest in this blog:
Dear Father Dennis,
I read with great interest about your new ministry. We met one Sunday morning in Saint John of the Cross. I sat with you and you told me that you had been transferred from St. Helen’s and I suggested: “Empty yourself and God will fill the space.”
I was told in 2013 that I had Stage IV esophageal cancer-mets to the liver. No surgery, no radiation, only chemo: even then the best guess was 17 months to 2 years left in this world. By November 2016, I was cleared. All cancer cells were gone.
I was called to serve the Lord in hospital ministry as a Eucharistic minister, to come and listen, to be present to the sick and dying. The ministry was a source of joy. While I recognize nothing I communicate is probably a new idea for you, I am compelled to share with you my thoughts from a patient’s point of view. Hope this helps and God bless you.
Note: Bob is still actively involved in ministry for the sick
When I received the diagnosis of esophageal cancer, I was told only 5 to 17% with this condition would be alive five years from now. At that time, I could not even swallow water without regurgitation. As a student of humanity, I came to understand that there are two dominant emotions which motivate human behaviors: fear and love. We fear and so we secure insurance and security devices to protect us. But we also love when we seek the best Doctor, lawyer, Priest to help family members who experience adversity. It is healthy to do so.
Fear is most evident in the Bible. For example, in Gethsemane, according to the synoptic gospels, Jesus asks His Father to let this cup of His passion pass. The Gospels are replete with His acts of forgiveness and love (Go and sin no more). Fear and love were totally a human experience for the God-man-Jesus Christ, and for us. My first reaction (not normal) was complete acceptance of my diagnosis. Not fear. However, fears did arise when I began to think of my family. Will they be financially secure? Will they be able to take over the tasks I performed for them?
Our marriage was built on a division of labor. We each contributed to our family the talents and strengths we were given. We only fought about who was the better cook. Unanimously I was chosen, so that became my job!!!!
Being in a good place, (“Ah the Sheer Grace”) my attitude was Father Take me, for then my struggles with the world, flesh, and the devil will be over. Or leave here to do your will. That’s called freedom. What a gift! However, I was blind to the fears and concerns around me. To whit, God was taking me from them. Now I realize we all see reality from different perspectives. The peace I felt was not their reality. We need (guidance) to understand what (we are) experiencing…
We promised to love each other in sickness and in health (easy to say, but not easy to do). I always knew as a Catholic Christian my life was not always about me, it is also about others. Then I knew I needed to rid myself of self as Jesus did. Therefore being open, I was led—literally lead- to visit the sick in the hospital. Door after door opened in front of me. The signposts were there. It was up to me to say Yes, as Matthew did when Jesus called him. I said, Yes! Lord if You lead me, I will hold Your people in my heart. So now in my seventies, more often, I am feeling the peace of Christ and the joy of my baptism.
Love always overcomes fear. Ah the sheer Grace!