Holy Thursday – Stay With Me

Washing Feet
Wash one another's feet.

After Supper Jesus and his disciples walked to the garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus said to them: “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me.  Stay here and keep watch with me.”  (Matthew 26:38) Jesus asks his disciples for the simple gift of their presence, their accompaniment.

Accompaniment is a time when another person needs or wants support on our shared pilgrimage toward God.  The need can be from fear, loneliness, exhaustion, confusion, or any number of reasons. Alluding to Moses in Exodus 3, Pope Francis describes accompaniment as our opportunity “to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 169)

In 1981, my mom had open heart surgery. Compared to today the surgery was rough: her breastbone was cut open, the doctors did their “magic,” and then wired her chest closed.  Mom’s ability to do ordinary chores at home was greatly compromised. My dad, brothers, and I were the weekend crew. My mom’s two cousins, Clare and Gen, stepped in to fix weekly meals, drive her to doctor appointments, and take her for walks, which the doctors strongly encouraged as part of the recovery routine. It was not her favorite activity. With time and her cousins’ care, she gradually got stronger and resumed her normal activities. Our family was so grateful to Clare and Gen that they accompanied mom in her struggles.

Kaylee is a cantor at my parish. In November she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She was devastated. After meeting other cancer patients and knowing how frightened and down many of them are, she decided to record a song, “I Am Not Alone.”  It details her fight against cancer. It’s positive. It’s hopeful. She offers strength to others as they walk together on their journey of healing.

Recently, I met Mike who serves as an instructor and group facilitator at a Chicago jail.  His goal is to make a difference in the men who are struggling to put their lives on a positive course. This ministry takes time, presence, and respect for the sacred ground of the other that we share.

On this Holy Thursday, Jesus is asking each of us to stay and keep watch and to accompany friends and strangers when they are challenged by life’s hurdles. Keep it simple — a visit, a phone call, a hug, an email.


I’m reminded of the refrain to a hymn from the Taizé’ community:

Stay with me

Remain here with me

Watch and pray

Watch and pray.


Link to Taizé’s ‘Stay With Me’  https://youtu.be/qSodg61pFp8


– Sister Kathleen Donnelly, OPSister Kathleen Donnelly

Sister Kathleen served as an elementary school principal for many years and now volunteers at various ministries in the Chicago area.



Scroll to Top