It is always a wonderful challenge to bring together people who are passionate and committed to something in common. The world of Hospital Chaplaincy is no exception. And this makes a lot of sense when we recall that Healthcare as we know it today has its roots in a tradition of care that goes back centuries. We sometimes might forget that the modern, western concept of the hospital evolved out of an ethos of Christian compassion. In the gospel stories about Jesus, his care for the sick features very strongly. Hospital Chaplaincy is an ever evolving expression of this solidarity with those seeking healing.
At CatholicCare, we work shoulder to shoulder with many others across the faith communities who provide pastoral support for patients and families. Across our catholic community there is a diversity of people and points of view that are engaged in Hospital Chaplaincy and that is a good thing to invite all to be a part of the conversation.
On Wednesday 9 May we managed to do just that when the agencies of the Archdiocese of Melbourne - Ministry to Priests and Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation - together with CatholicCare convened an in-service day, called, “Hospital Chaplaincy: Working Together”, held at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne.
Around forty people – pastoral workers, lay chaplains, parish based visitors, volunteers, priests, health care workers – gathered to reflect on this most vital ministry of the Church. The day opened with presentations from Mons Anthony Ireland and Fr Tony Keran about the theological and practical dimensions of hospital ministry. The afternoon then saw an engaging medley of short presentations and discussion about chaplaincy as seen from the point of view of the state run public hospitals:
- Gillian Carmichael, CatholicCare Coordinator Catholic Chaplaincy, spoke about how a busy inner city public healthcare facility like the Royal Melbourne Hospital integrates spiritual care and chaplaincy into its suite of care provision
- Luke Bowen, Director Consumer Engagement & Volunteer Services at Austin Health, spoke of the long history of commitment to Chaplaincy at the Austen Hospital and the strong sense that broader community engagement is only enhanced when participation of faith communities is welcomed
- Helen Little, CatholicCare Chaplain at the Royal Children’s Hospital – Parkville, took participants along a harrowing and redemptive journey for parents who lost their young son after almost 9 months of hospitalisation
There was much scope for questions, discussion and feedback from participants; the high levels of energy, laughter and challenging questions ensured that there is indeed a profound appetite for the conversation to continue. As they say, “watch this space”!
Paul Zammit is the Senior Manager of CatholicCare's Pastoral Services