Sr Anne Maree Jensen: As a Presentation Sister for thirty-seven years, I have been blessed with many varied opportunities for Nano’s Ministry, each with their own challenges, revelations and rewards. I have taught in primary schools, learnt to fly a plane in order to minister to geographically isolated families in south-west Queensland, and been a chaplain to the Queensland Police, to name but a few roles I have been involved with.
Currently my ministry as School Pastoral Worker involves being present at two small rural Catholic primary schools in a low socio-economic area in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane Qld. Earlier this year (2011) the Lockyer Valley experienced their worst flooding in history. There is much to be done in the area to help the devastated people deal with their pain and grief, loss of loved ones, and loss of livelihood.
Children are often helpless victims of the adults’ struggles. As I saw the need, I undertook training in the Season’s Program, a program designed to help children understand and deal with loss and grief often related to chronic life threatening illnesses, death, changing schools, separation and divorce, or custody disputes with their families. I introduced the program successfully into our school last year (2010).
A Sacred Space, financed by the Presentation Ministry Fund, has been set up by me in each school. It is to this room that distressed children and parents can come for support and a compassionate listening ear. We undertake play therapy, interactive drawing therapy and sandplay. This Sacred Space also allows for ‘time out’ in a quiet relaxed environment.
To my joy and delight I assist at school camps and excursions, enjoying the freedom and fun with the children. I attend support teacher-focused meetings and am available in a pastoral care capacity for any of the staff. I liaise with the Principals and school guidance counsellor on a regular basis, particularly for the management and well-being of selected children deemed to be at risk.
My role as School Pastoral Worker also includes supporting the families of the children. This often means doing home visits, contacting welfare agencies to enable families to access the help they need, accompanying parents to court, and attending funerals. I have a particular interest in assisting Indigenous families in their struggles. There is also a growing need to support families coming to us from Sudan to integrate into the community here.
Being a member of the Queensland Presentation Sisters is important to me. The opportunities available to deepen my own understanding, faith and trust in God are supported by a strong loving community that both inspires and nurtures my mission for God’s reign.