Holy Spirit Parish at Geist Catholic Church is celebrating 20 years of peer support and guidance through its Stephen Ministry program.
The internationally known program is offered to Holy Spirit at Geist members and their adult family members who may not be parish members. Pastoral Associate Greg Bowman said the program has served 500 people at Holy Spirit Parish at Geist since it was offered in 1999.
“It’s a one-on-one ministry, and we give volunteers training and listening skills and how to deal with mild depression,” Bowman said. “Someone who’s having a difficult time in life can call and say, ‘I’d like to be matched up with a Stephen Minister.’ They meet, and the idea is for the Stephen Minster to listen to them, help them process their feelings, encourage them, pray with them and just help them through that difficult time.”
Bowman, a professional counselor, evaluates the person prior to connecting with a Stephen Minister.
“When I’m talking to someone about a situation and they’re asking for a Stephen Minister, I try to make sure that Stephen Ministers never get assigned someone who has an active addiction or someone who’s more than mildly depressed, and certainly never ever anyone who is voicing any kind of suicidal ideation,” he said.
If Bowman comes across someone who needs professional help, he connects the person with the right sources.
Stephen Ministers often help people with relationship difficulties, in grief situations or are undergoing a spiritual crisis, among other issues.
Stephen Ministers are volunteers who receive 50 hours of training in seven months. They are supervised and undergo continued education twice a month. Holy Spirit Parish has trained nearly 300 Stephen Ministers.
For more, visit hspgeist.org.