Pastoral care is one of my ministry passions–connecting people to hope, to the sacred, to each other. For many years, I spent most of my days in a hospital, being the chaplain to folks in need. These days, I spend time with one on one hospital visits, but I also spend time trying to lift up parishioners who seem to have a talent and a call for pastoral care ministry–co-workers in the vineyard.
Increasingly, my ministry is to folks with no particular faith background. I’ve noticed that this does not change the work very much. The cares and concerns of my brothers and sisters are very much the same–Baptist, Catholic, Agnostic or Irreverent.
Pastoral Care ministry is rather straight-forward: know oneself, know God, know the Other. If we manage those tasks, we have done something miraculous. As a Chaplain, I specialized in crisis management and end of life work, though I served at every level of care. In the parish, I work with people in all different places of joy and sorrow–for every new baby, there is a couple struggling to conceive; for every 90 year old, there is someone who dies too soon.
Blessing the Christmas Tree and Creche for the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rush Oak Park Hospital, Advent 2011.
Disaster preparedness exercises. Pastoral is deeply integrated into the hospital’s response to traumas, violence and natural disasters. Chaplains are first responders along with medical and psych staff.
Finishing a donation campaign for the Fischer House charity at Hines VA hospital. Part of my responsibilities involve liaising with community charities to advance the mission of the hospital.
At Christmastime, Pastoral Care gets a stocking on one of the in-patient units.
Sometimes, ministry in the hospital has to be creative or “on-the-fly.” This was a private Veneration of the Cross that I was working on in my office for Good Friday observances, 2010.
If you’re curious about credentialing for chaplains, the two hyperlinks below show my Endorsement for healthcare ministries from the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago as well as my Board Certification from the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). APC requires 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) as well as 2000 hours of direct patient care before a chaplain is eligible for Board Certification.
Before one can become a healthcare Chaplain, one needs to finish all of one’s CPE. Pastoral Care is different in the hospital setting than it is in the parish setting, though there is some important overlap.
Our pastoral care staff try hard to make sure that all the staff and volunteers have a chance to develop their own ministries. I facilitate a yearly school supply drive for the parish school of St. Catherine and St. Lucy. Below are some of the bounty the staff donated.
While at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, part of my work during field placement was to assist with the implementation of the parish Stephen Ministry program. My pastoral care work in the clinical setting was a nice asset to this work.
My friend and mentor, the Rev. George D. Smith III, turning 50 and in better shape than me!
The lovely St. Lucy Chapel, showing off for Easter. Just because we’re a hospital chapel doesn’t mean we can’t put on our best duds.