October 11, 2019

Respect Life award winner says ‘it’s important not to forget’ the lonely, dying

Barbara Hinkle, a member of St. Gabriel Parish in Connersville, holds the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect Life Award she received at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 6. Posing with her are Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity coordinator Brie Anne Varick, and Deacon Michael Braun, director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Pastoral Ministries. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Barbara Hinkle, a member of St. Gabriel Parish in Connersville, holds the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect Life Award she received at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 6. Posing with her are Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity coordinator Brie Anne Varick, and Deacon Michael Braun, director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Pastoral Ministries. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

In an article in the Dec. 7, 2018, issue of The Criterion, Barbara Hinkle commented on a nursing home ministry she created in March of that year.

“You gain a reward from the experience, maybe even more than the person you’re helping,” said the member of St. Gabriel Parish in Connersville.

Hinkle now has indeed received a reward—a tangible one. For creating the Compassionate Visitors and Vigil Keepers Group, she received the archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity’s 2019 Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect Life Award at the Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 6.

“I was absolutely shocked,” she said of her reaction to receiving news of the honor a few weeks ago. “I was just very surprised and humbled. I’m thankful that God has put me in the place where I have the time and can do this kind of work. I give the glory back to him.”

The mission of Compassionate Visitors and Vigil Keepers Group is to serve in local nursing homes “to bring joy and hope to the lonely, and peace and comfort to the dying … regardless of their religious affiliation,” as a brochure for the ministry states.

Hinkle had already started a ministry to bring the Eucharist to homebound Catholics and those in nursing homes. It was through this ministry that she recognized a deeper need.

“I feel like it’s the Holy Spirit that directly inspired me to come up with the idea of doing this ministry of serving those [in nursing homes] with no family, no friends to visit [them] or be with them when they die,” she said.

Hinkle acknowledged the group—and the award—would not be possible without volunteers and the support of her husband Larry, her parish’s pastor Father Dustin Boehm “and so many others.”

To have her role in founding Compassionate Visitors and Vigil Keepers Group be honored on Respect Life Sunday “means a lot,” she said.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing—we’re respecting the life and dignity of the elderly and people who have often been forgotten, alone and lonely,” Hinkle continued. “They’re just as important as anyone else. The ones who are just waiting ‘til their day comes, it’s important not to forget them and to remember them.”

After all, one never knows the difference a little time and respect can make. As Hinkle noted in the 2018 Criterion article: “We may be the only form of God’s love they ever know. They might know Jesus through us.”
 

(For more information on the Compassionate Visitors and Vigil Keepers Group in Connersville, contact Barbara Hinkle at barbdhinkle@hotmail.com.)

 

Related: ‘Hearts fixed on Jesus’: Archbishop Thompson urges Catholics to defend life with trust in ‘Christ Our Hope’

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