Melissa White, Archdiocese of Hobart

Melissa White, Archdiocese of HobartI am involved at various levels of pastoral ministry, within my own parish and within my work role. My work role is the implementation of mission and spiritual formation of volunteers within a lay Catholic organisation.

My own spiritual journey has perhaps been the greatest motivation to work in lay pastoral ministry. I feel that becoming a servant to others, in big and small ways, having empathy and compassion for others, and seeing Christ in every person I meet, is really a response to the transformation that has taken place in my heart because I have met and come to know God.

Baptised as a baby, I became part of the church community and started my life-long journey with Christ, but it really wasn’t until the age of 26, when I became a mother, and in years since, that I have recognised my calling and God’s action in my life.

Discernment is a choice of courage, and I have always tried to discern how God is speaking to me. Through discernment, I moved to a new city to expand my business, through discernment I left that successful business of 15 years to work for a charitable organisation and serve those who are marginalised. The list goes on…

God stirs and calls in the most unlikely times and places of my life, but only if I am ready and open to the Spirit’s leading. None of us know what the future holds, but what I know is that I can trust that God knows my heart and will lead me in his time.

A lot of the formation I have received is informal. I read a lot! I have also attended spiritual/servant leadership courses and other courses to better understand myself and others. I also have a Counselling qualification. As for a Pastoral Ministry qualification, this is something I am seeking for the future.

In terms of support and fellowship, this is something that I have struggled with. I go to mass and have a couple of people whom I relate to on a spiritual level (my Anam Cara), but otherwise, I have been searching for greater fellowship. I have recently had the support of a Spiritual Director. Meeting with her has been significant to my faith journey and so many opportunities have been presented to me!  I felt called to start my own Women’s Spiritual Book Club. Once again, with courage, prayer and discernment, eight like-minded women are now joining me to share our faith and encourage each other.

Working with people gives me great joy. Each has a unique gift to share with me, and one of the greatest joys is to recognise a spark of the divine in each person I meet. Behind every scar there is a story. It is a privilege when another person shares their story with me. Each person has something to teach me.