Even before discovering what Elaine Babbish describes as her part in the “healing mission of Christ” as a lay chaplain at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, she was deeply immersed in a life path of treating and caring for the sick. Born and raised in metro Detroit, Elaine studied nursing at Wayne State University before working in home care and as a home hospice nurse in Oakland County for almost thirty years. She also worked at the Mother and Unborn Baby Care Center in Southfield doing ultrasounds for couples facing unplanned pregnancies.
The demand for Elaine’s gifts of compassion and nurturing were not just called for in her professional life, they were crucial in her personal life as well. As a young woman, Elaine became her mother’s guardian when was very sick, often sitting with her through multiple hospitalizations. “One time in particular I was sitting with her in the hospital and making a rosary by tying knots in a long colored chord,” remembers Elaine, “A chaplain noticed me praying and working on the rosary. He asked what I was doing and he was compassionate and peaceful in his conversational care. His presence validated my care in a way that was helpful for me. I believe much of my compassion I learned was through my mother’s suffering. It took me a very long time to discover that gift.”
In 2006, Elaine became a volunteer for Michigan Catholic Radio and had the opportunity to interview various Catholic ministries in the Archdiocese of Detroit including churches, hospitals, schools, and seminaries. “I had the opportunity to host Msgr. Lajiness, Msgr. Trapp, and Bishop Flores, which was very exciting,” remembers Elaine, “Through my many interviews, my path not only became visible but I was being invited to study at Sacred Heart Seminary as a means of going into lay chaplaincy.”