Sister Brings Love of God to Tragic Situations

by Isabella, an Ace Reporter

Isabella is a 7th grade student and member of the Ace Reporter program at Annunciation Catholic Academy in Altamonte Springs.

Sister for Christian Communities Jean Riggs works as a chaplain for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, where she has helped the Orange County community in many different ways.

Sister Jean became a sister before becoming a chaplain. She felt that becoming a chaplain was what God was calling her to do. She said, “It is a special way of serving God, by bringing faith and love to those whom I serve and serving the community of cities in Orange County.” With this statement, it is obvious that she is a loving, compassionate person who has dedicated her life to helping others. In fact, she was a first responder called out to minister to the victims of the second largest terrorist attack in U.S. history – the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

As a chaplain, Sister Jean takes care of the spiritual needs of the Orange County officers and deputies, talking with these individuals after a tragedy, fight, or a critical incident such as a car crash. The breadth of Sister Jean’s ministry reaches people of all different faith backgrounds in the community, including families of suicide victims and drowning accidents, officers that have been shot, and baptisms of dying children.

When asked about her most memorable experience, she recalled, “Not too long ago I was present when two different police officers gave birth. The first to give birth was an officer from Orange County. Her baby was born perfectly healthy and strong. However, the second, a sheriff’s dispatcher, had a stillborn baby.” The second mother may have questioned God in her time of need, but Sister Jean comforted her, helping her understand that this had happened for a reason.

Sister Jean also shared an instance where an argument between two families got out of hand. A large crowd of nearly 100 people began to get violent and accidentally a young pregnant woman was hit by a fleeing car and thrown into a ditch. Sister Jean fearlessly made her way through the crowd after her while the other officers attended to the mob. She calmed the women down and said prayers over her. When the ambulance arrived, Sister Jean bravely joined the officers to try to calm down the crowd.

She has been asked why she would pray for criminals when they have wronged God. Her reply, “God loves all of us. We must always keep that in mind because there is always a chance of redemption.” She explained that no matter what, there is always a way to be led back to God. When asked why she continues to be a chaplain she said, “It’s the feeling I get when I go home at night—that I have given my best to love my God and the people I encounter.”