Creating a Fashion for Compassion

by Teresa Hartnett, Director of Family Ministry, Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

Compassionate care reaches out to persons who are vulnerable: the sick, the dying, the lonely, the aging. When we move to meet the necessities of people needing support, we transform the community in which we are engaging.

We send a message to each vulnerable person that they matter, they are not alone, and their life has meaning. This kind of support uplifts the spirit and contributes to a feeling of well-being, even when someone is physically seriously ill.

What Compassionate Care Looks Like

Compassionate care can take on many forms: a simple phone call, visits to the isolated and/or ill, journeying with the dying. What really matters is that we do something for someone; that we take the initiative to create a community where no one is left to fend for themselves at a time when they need help the most.

We can engage in these initiatives in a variety of ways, but our goal should always be to reach out to persons who are at a vulnerable time in their lives. Service to others brings benefits to both parties involved: each becomes healthier, stronger and happier. It is the ultimate win-win!

How to Accomplish Organizing a Compassionate Care Team

  • Draw in people who have a heart for serving those in need.
  • Take an inventory of the gifts and talents among those who will engage.
  • Ensure good quality training and protocols for whatever is to be undertaken.
  • Design a plan to accomplish the groups goals, appointing the appropriate people to the right task according to the gift inventory.

What You Can Accomplish

  • Bringing higher levels of happiness to those you serve.
  • Improving (in small or big ways) the quality of people’s lives.
  • Helping the vulnerable to thrive to the best of their ability.
  • Greater community connections and relationships

Every person deserves great care and compassion. We can respond to the needs of so many by organizing groups, or by engaging ourselves personally, to send a message of hope. When we provide support, we build a community that shows respect, compassion, trust, equality and caring. It connects us to our neighbours and friends in need and contributes to an overall connection within the community. So, organize people to reach out through your parish, neighborhood, or even work place. The benefits are vital to those in need.

As the Dalai Lama has noted: Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

Links of interest:

Palliative Care Information Diocese of Hamilton:

The Art of Dying Well:

Palliative Care – Dying with Dignity:

Cardus-Pallium Canada- Palliative Care Round Table Summary: