When Sister Barbara Whelan left her past ministry in 2012, she could have simply retired. After all, Sister Barbara had spent 47 years in teaching and it’s not likely anyone would have blamed her for wanting to spend her present days relaxing. Instead, the Depew, New York resident remained committed to a future of service and began a second ministry as a medical assistant.

“I responded with a ‘yes’ to a new ministry at Lancaster Medical,” Sister Barbara said. “From this blessing, I went forth with new life, energy and gratitude.”

Sister Barbara says letting go of the love and joy that teaching children had brought her was a difficult process. With her extra time, she said she made room in her life for something new and embarked on “a ministry where I had another opportunity to step out and create another dream beyond my wildest dreams.”

Working alongside physicians at Lancaster Medical in Depew, Sister Barbara performs administrative and clinical duties.

“It is no mistake that God has placed these sick and gentle individuals in my life,” she said. “They teach me more about trust and compassion.”

Patients are often surprised when they discover that Sister Barbara is a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. In turn, she reminds them that like St. Francis, she lives and preaches the Gospel wherever she is.

“People often ask me to pray for them and to send them medals or religious articles to remind them of my promise to pray for them,” she said.

Grateful for the opportunity to touch the lives of people from diverse backgrounds and faiths, what Sister Barbara values most in her new ministry is the relationships she develops with patients. “It is a privilege to be a life-giving presence to those who are experiencing suffering,” she said.

Photo: Sister Barbara Whelan checks Mark Braunscheidel’s blood pressure. Mark says he was pleasantly surprised to see his former teacher from 47 years ago in her new ministry.