Patricia Ziegler’s devotion to the sick

By Matt Bell | August 26 2016 07:00AM

Patricia Ziegler

The passing of her father-in-law led Financial Horizons Group’s Chief Operating Officer, Patricia Ziegler, on a mission to help and support some of the sickest members of her community.

Few may know but Ziegler is an Extraordinary Minister for her local parish in Waterloo, Ontario. This role includes giving communion at mass each week and visiting the sick and disabled in hospital each week.

“I started with the passing of my father-in-law who was very active in our local parish, he was an Extraordinary Minister and he was heavily involved with the hospitals, in which I am involved in too. It almost created a legacy in my mind. He didn’t need one, as he was a well-respected man, but it was my way of giving back to the community,” she says.

The training for Ziegler to become an Extraordinary Minister was long and gruelling; it even left Ziegler questioning if she could do it.

“It was such an extensive process to go through. You really have to be committed because along the way it can be trying to continue, especially when you have a career in a thriving business. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t think I have the time to take the next step,’ but it was such a strong passion for me,” she explains.

Now, three years into the role, Ziegler says she wouldn’t look back and would easily do it all over again. Every week, apart from giving communion at mass, Patricia goes to two local hospitals and gives communion, prays with and visits people who can’t get to hospital. They include the elderly, mentally challenged, those suffering disabilities and people who are in the last stage of their lives.

Incredibly emotional experience

“One of the most emotional parts is getting a connection with someone that you see week after week and then you go in, expecting them to be there, and the bed is empty. It is an incredibly emotional experience.”

Ziegler mentions two patients who have been particularly special to her during her weekly hospital visits – a young paraplegic and an elderly lady.

“There is this one man who is a paraplegic. He is a young man and I get to visit him on a weekly basis and offer him communion and he is so grateful. His walls are plastered with pictures of his wife and his children and who are all very young. It really is unfortunate to see him like this.”

“And there was this one woman – I would show up at 9 a.m. and she would have her hair and makeup done and she was 90 something. She knew my name and she looked forward to seeing me. Then, one week I went in and her room was empty; she had passed away. It was sad.”

A deeper appreciation of life

While visiting the hospital and meeting all the wonderful people may be Ziegler’s highlight of week it also reminds her of the basic things in life.

“I leave and go home to my children and it reminds you of the circle of life. It also makes you appreciate your own health and life.”

Devoting several hours a week to a great cause while balancing her role as an executive at Financial Horizons and as member of three different boards of directors, all while being a wife and raising two children, makes for a very busy life.

“I don’t know how I balance it. It is something I’m just driven to do...I really don’t think about it. I don’t have time for it, if I really looked at my schedule. I don’t think I could do it without the support of my incredible boss, John Hamilton, who is so understanding and supportive of what I do and why I am doing it,” she says.

For Ziegler – who was named one of The Insurance and Investment Journal’s 50 Women of Influence in 2014 – there is nothing more incredible than giving back to the community as an Extraordinary Minister.

“Helping people, I can’t say this without crying, I can’t describe it…There is nothing better. Just to see people who might be dying or disabled and they look to a higher being and they believe that you being there is a time to reflect and pray... It is very calming and is a chance to give back without any expectation and to know you’ve touched a person’s life.”