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National Pastoral Care Week

From October 22 to 28 we recognize Pastoral Care Week, also known as Spiritual Care Week. As more people around the world come to recognize the importance of whole person care, we take note during this special week, now in its 32nd year, to celebrate those who provide this care through professional chaplaincy and pastoral counseling. These trained professionals minister to the needs of persons of all faiths or none. They provide this care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospices, nursing homes and military settings throughout the world. By celebrating the week we have the opportunity to recognize the important and often unrecognized work and healing gifts of pastoral care givers, be they clergy, chaplains, or volunteers. By Eric J. Hall (Huffington Post)

 

Back in June of this year daughter Kathryn, ever watchful over the lives of her aging parents, sent me an email pertaining to an upcoming educational program offered at the hospital where she is employed. The course offered the opportunity for an individual to be trained in Pastoral Counseling and ultimately be a Chaplain upon successful completion. I’m guessing she thought I had too much idle time on my hands. I accepted the opportunity, filled out a lenghthy application and passed the background investigation and was accepted.

I finished the course successfully along with five other classmates and have begun walking the halls of the hospital and doing patient visitations. I am part of the Volunteer Services of the institution and am proud to be worthy of this responsibility.

During my formative years I was raised a Methodist, practiced as a Lutheran and attended a Baptist church while in the Marine Corps in Washington, DC. Fifty three years ago I married a young Catholic girl and have long been a practicing member of that faith. I’ve worshiped with Mormons, Jews and those of the Episcopal faith and attended a few Charismatic services. The rooms I enter will have a listener from many perspectives and three-quarters of a century of life experiences. Now, if these legs just hold up, I may do some good. Not quite sure what they might say when they realize a Rooster’s walking the halls.

No matter the faith, we all ask for a blessing from a higher authority when the chips are not quite falling our way. This is especially true when sickness or injury brings us inside those antiseptic walls of a hospital. An ending quote from a Chaplain that was recently carried in the Huffington Post went like this.

““We as chaplains in health care are often invited by patients and family members to stand with them in sacred spaces at sacred times in their lives. We are there with them to witness the beginnings of the lives and the ending of lives. We stand with them and support them during some of the greatest joys and some of the greatest tragedies that life brings to any person.”

Pastoral Care Overview

The Catholic Health Association of the United States

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Catholic health care is committed to care of the whole person – body, mind and spirit. We listen, we explain and we serve with compassion. As the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services states: “Since a Catholic health care institution is a community of healing and compassion, the care offered is not limited to the treatment of a disease or bodily ailment but embraces the physical, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of the human person. … For this reason, Catholic health care extends to the spiritual nature of the person. … Directed to the spiritual needs that are often appreciated more deeply during times of illness, pastoral care is an integral part of Catholic health care.” (Part Two: The Pastoral and Spiritual Responsibility of Catholic Health Care, Introduction)

Through the Pastoral Care Advisory Committee, CHA looks at the changing landscape, challenges and opportunities for delivering spiritual care in new and creative ways. While pastoral care has traditionally been provided in Catholic hospitals and long-term care facilities, the shift in health care delivery to non-acute care and outpatient settings has created new opportunities for patients and residents to receive holistic care in these new settings. Many of our members are using chaplains in physician offices and ambulatory settings where patients with chronic diseases are being treated. Catholic health care is committed to providing holistic care in whatever setting care is being delivered. The need for qualified chaplains is growing.

Recognizing there is a shortage of trained, qualified chaplains in health care, CHA is committed to working collaboratively with board certifying groups to ensure there will be enough qualified chaplains to fill the needs going into the future. Many members are finding ways to use board certified chaplains with the most critically ill patients and supplement their staff though trained volunteers and local clergy. For more information about pastoral care activities, please contact Brian Smith, MS, MA, M.Div., CHA senior director of mission innovation and integration.

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.


A Reading on a Monday Morning

Back in June, daughter Kathryn sent me information about an upcoming training course at the hospital she works for, Penisula Regional Medical Center. The course was a “Basic Chaplains course,” with participants responsible for “Pastoral Care in Hospitals” upon completion.

Twenty-six years ago I also was an employee of this institution. Just one of my many hats during three-quarters of a century traveling around the sun.  I have thought of volunteering at this hospital for some time. I felt it would be a way to give back for the thirty years of Cardiological Care I have received. I’ve had quite a few positive outcomes from various procedures and am a proud, five-time graduate of the Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

So I filled out the necessary paperwork for the “Basic Chaplain Course” and was quite pleased when I found out I was accepted. I looked forward to my Thursday evenings and engaging in dialogue with my fellow students and instructor. After several weeks we would meet with in-patients, explain the services offered by the “Pastoral Care Department,” and carry on dialogue with the patients under the guidance and oversight of staff chaplains.

I proudly completed that course last Thursday and look forward to starting my Volunteer Chaplain time at the hospital in the coming days. I’ve developed of late, a habit of doing a daily reading of one kind or another. Today I happened to read, An Accessible Woman: Remembering St. Teresa of Kolkata, by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB     One part of that reading was as follows:

“The fruit of silence is PRAYER. The fruit of prayer is FAITH. The fruit of faith is LOVE. The fruit of love is SERVICE. The fruit of service is PEACE. God bless you. –Mother Teresa.”

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

Mercy

The Dalai Lama said:   “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

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Quite often in life I have heard the words, “Oh Mercy Me.” Just what does this mean I ask. Well, in reading a recent book, 
“Mercy means that we no longer constantly judge everyone’s large and tiny failures, foolish hearts, dubious convictions, and inevitable bad behavior. We will never do this perfectly, but how do we do it better? How do we mostly hold people we’ve encountered with the understanding of a wise, caring mother who has seen it all, knows that we all struggle, knows that on the inside we’re as vulnerable as a colony of rabbits?”  A blogger I follow used those words from Anne Lamott’s new book, Hallelujah Anyway- Rediscovering Mercy.”  
That question (judgement of others,) is one I have recently been asking myself, very recently in fact. Especially when herself gives me that look. You all know what that look is, right?  _
The Oxford dictionary in it’s “Synonym Study” has this to say about Mercy:  If you want to win friends and influence people, it’s best to start with benevolence, a general term for goodwill and kindness. Charity is even better, suggesting forbearance and generous giving but also meaning tolerance and understanding of others. Compassion, which is a feeling of sympathy or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, will put you one step closer to sainthood and showing mercy will practically guarantee it. Aside from it’s religious overtones, mercy means compassion or kindness in our treatment of others. 
Way back in 1971 Marvin Gaye wrote and sang about the Ecology and used that saying “Mercy Me.”
Whoa, oh, mercy, mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be, no, no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east
Whoa, mercy, mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be, no, no
Oil wasted on the oceans
And upon our seas, fish full of mercury
Oh, oh, mercy, mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be, no, no
Radiation underground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying
Oh, mercy, mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land?
How much more abuse from man can she stand?
Oh, no, no, no
My sweet Lord
No, no, no, no, no
My, my, my Lord
My sweet Lord
Ecologically speaking, I get that look when I toss a recyclable in the trash can. “Oh mercy me, I’ve erred again.”
During this season of Christmas I shall make every effort to show a little “Mercy.” I’m not looking for Sainthood, just a little compassion and kindness towards others. If I don’t get “that look,” quite so often I’ll know I’m making progress with both people and recyclables.
May you all enjoy this Christmas season and may a bit of Mercy enter our hearts.