Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Writer Samantha Smith joined the newspaper staff in 2019. Her favorite assignment of last year was the story she did on Stephen Ministries. In this photo, Stephen Ministers from St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, meet during semimonthly small peer group supervision. It’s a time when Stephen Ministers share experiences and bounce ideas off of each other, so they can better serve their care receivers.


Writer’s favorite assignment highlighted listening ministry

By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published January 9, 2020

ATLANTA—All of us have faced difficulties in life. Whether it is job loss, divorce, financial stress, death or other challenges, we know that life is not always fair or kind. When we face those darker times, support in the form of a listening, unbiased ear can make all the difference.

This kind of life changing support is provided through Stephen Ministry.

Listening to Katherine’s experience with Stephen Ministry for a December story was very touching. A full-time caregiver for her disabled husband, she was surprised that a Stephen Minister was there to support her through her journey. With the experience, she learned how to take better care of herself, which in turn helped her take better care of her husband and others.

Sometimes, we are so busy taking care of others and our many responsibilities that we forget to check on ourselves spiritually and emotionally. A Stephen Minister provides that needed support, making a person stop for an hour each week to ask, “How are you doing? Are you okay?”

In 2018, I was struggling mentally and emotionally. I felt lost and confused. Even though I reached out to my family and friends for support, I was struggling to articulate and receive the help I needed. While I made it through that time, I know the support of a Stephen Minister, an unbiased and caring person, would have made such a difference.

We encounter people every day not knowing the internal battles they are fighting—not knowing they just received bad news from a doctor’s visit or got into an argument with a family member. Society teaches us that it is important to smile and to appear that everything is OK, even when things are falling apart. In addition, stigmas about counseling for so many years keep many people from the help they desperately need.

As we become more aware of mental health, I hope people are encouraged to reach out and accept help. I also hope that people will consider Stephen Ministry during a hard time or after receiving some difficult news. This ministry is a reminder that we do not have to struggle by ourselves; that having someone walk with you with a faith-filled heart, listening ear and no judgement can have a profound impact.

In this new year, may we become less afraid to ask for help and take the needed time to care for our mental and spiritual well-being.

The reporters and photographer of The Georgia Bulletin each selected their favorite stories of 2019 for Year in Review.