New pastoral care coordinator brings comfort, hope and aroha to the role

By Petrina Wright | Posted: Thursday January 26, 2023

Enliven Southland’s new pastoral care coordinator Shirley Keen has swapped welcoming visitors into her home-based hospitality business for visiting others in their homes, but her core values of providing care and comfort to others remain her focus.

Shirley joined the Enliven team in January.

“I feel very privileged to be in this role,” she said. “I am excited about the challenge, growing in myself, working with the team at PSS and getting to know the residents.”

The born and bred Southlander grew up on a family farm at Wakapatu Beach near Colac Bay.

Shirley is a mother to three grown sons, and a widow of several years. She is of Ngai Tahu descent and is on the start of her Te Ao Maori journey with PSS.

Before taking up the position of pastoral care co-ordinator for Enliven Southland, Shirley had run her own AirBnB business for more than five years.

“It was time for a change,” she said. “I lost my passion for what I was doing, due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19,” she said.

Although not an ordained minister, Shirley had a wealth of experience to offer the role.

She grew up in the church, with her father Leo Austin a pastor in Orepuki for many years.

Shirley said she had performed various voluntary roles and led groups within the church over many years. She had also volunteered as a chaplain at Southland Hospital for the past 18 months.

She had enjoyed the chaplaincy role, so she decided to start looking for a more permanent position doing a similar role.

The pastoral care role at Enliven Southland was a good fit, she said.

“Pastoral care is something I am passionate about….and I have a heart for the elderly.”

Shirley said when she started this new role, she was given a manual to read up about Presbyterian Support Southland. There was a statement in the Provision of Services section which read – ‘PS is to respond to the call of Jesus Christ to bring God’s love and care to the people’.

“When I read that I knew I was in the right place. That is the heart of me.

“I have a relationship with God, and I want to bring this comfort and hope and encouragement and aroha to the people I meet.”

The pastoral care role would involve supporting residents’ spiritual needs, whether that be offering comfort or a listening ear, arranging Bible study classes, helping to facilitate church services for them, or running some herself, and offering them prayer where it was appropriate.

“It will be an holistic approach, and I will support residents of all faiths.

“I look forward to being part of the team supporting the residents.”

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