Hello and welcome to my blog page. I’m Maureen McElligott, a retired speech pathologist and current part-time minister and hospice chaplain. I’ve been taking a contemplative writing class for about a year now, and the idea of blogging has been in the back of my mind. So now I bring it forth!
My denomination is Centers for Spiritual Living, formerly called Religious Science. My focus as a minister and human being is celebrating the Divine within and living my best life. Caring, love and service are what I’m about.
While I was studying to be a minister, three big things happened in my life that changed my course. First, my father died suddenly (heart attack) on the very day I retired from being a speech pathologist. I went from celebrating to going to be with my mom in Fullerton, CA. I ended up living with her half-time and supporting her emotionally and spiritually as her health declined.
Four months later, my brother John was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. My mom had been helping him a lot, but now she was unable to, so I stepped in and took him to doctor’s appointments. When he decided not to go with chemotherapy, his oncologist suggested that he hook up with hospice care, and I became the family contact. St. Joseph Hospice set up weekly appointments at his apartment, which I attended. I was immediately drawn to his hospice staff, including the chaplain, all of whom supported my brother so thoroughly. This in turn changed my focus from pulpit ministry to a ministry as a hospice chaplain. It’s interesting the way God works through things happening in our lives, isn’t it?
My brother lived for seven months, and we enjoyed day trips to the beach, meals eaten at all of his favorite places, and even a local jazz concert. The last month of his life brought more pain and more hospice support, with full-time nursing care the last several days. My mom came out of her apartment to be with John, along with our younger brother Paul and me. We each said good-bye, and I anointed him and blessed him on his way.
Mom stopped wanting to live after that. She changed her medical directive to “do not resuscitate” and gradually shut down, dying six months later at home with all of us around her.
I miss them all, but Mom’s death hit me hardest, or maybe it was the cumulative effect. I am grateful for the time we had together at the end. I am also grateful for my friends, fellow ministerial students, faculty and staff, who supported and loved me through this time. I believe that I am a wiser and more compassionate minister and chaplain because of my experiences.