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People of faith can fill need by using unique gifts and talents to help a hurting world — columnist Maureen Pratt bids farewell

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Maureen Pratt

We’re in the season for thankfulness, and this year at this time, I would like to focus this column on how grateful I am for each of you, readers and editors, who have supported “Living Well” over its nearly 17 years of publication.

With regret, but much gratitude in my heart, next month’s column will be my last, as Catholic News Service closes its U.S. operations.

I am going to miss my editors and readers, especially those of you who have reached out to me through the years with comments, questions, even challenges!

You each will have a place in my heart and prayers now and onward.

But I am deeply thankful, too, for this opportunity, that started from a simple question asked just “to see if …”

“Living Well” began as what we call a “cold call.” I telephoned Catholic News Service in early spring 2006, and asked if there might be a need for some work on the intersection of spirituality and faith, medicine and health.

My book, “Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain and Illness” had just been published. I was eager to continue to write, through experience and faith, about the many ways God’s presence makes all the difference in illness, disability, medical matters, and more.

(I also hoped something else would happen, related to the book, but more on that in a moment …)

There is wisdom in the phrase, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” Blessedly, I was offered the opportunity to write a “spec” piece, a sort of trial. I wrote about the RxLaughter program at UCLA — how laughter can be “good medicine” and comes from our marvelous Creator. From that first article, a regular column was born.

Over the years, I have had the honor to meet many amazing, faith-filled people from physicians and chaplains, to heroic parents and patients.

As I know, sometimes it is not easy to talk about personal crises, but your openness has brought light to some very dark places. Thank you for your courage and loving fellowship!

As a Catholic journalist, I have been grateful for the professional opportunity to witness the unique ways God works in sometimes very challenging health situations.

But also, I have been personally blessed and bolstered by this ongoing work, especially during the inevitable challenges of my own health issues and losses — a “bonus” that cannot be captured on a paycheck!

But I do not mean for this column to be only about the past tense.

However grateful I am for what has been an amazing journey over these nearly 17 years, I am thankfully energized for what lies ahead, because the work (which is really a ministry or vocation or labor of love) is not finished yet. Not by a mile.

The world still feels the effects of the pandemic, and there is an acute need for spirituality in health care, God and faith in “living well,” a recommitment to care for the soul as integral to care for the body.

And we people of faith can fill this need by using our unique gifts and talents to help a hurting world.

I am right there with you! New projects are already in the works, including one that brings full circle the starting point of “Living Well” and my book, “Peace in the Storm.” More on this next column (and on my website www.maureenpratt.com).

For now, thank you for your support, fellowship and faith.

Blessings for a truly grace-filled, wonderful Thanksgiving and Advent ahead. May our Lord’s peace blossom in your hearts like never before!

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Maureen’s website is www.maureenpratt.com