Chaplains offering support when it’s most needed
A calming influence, a listening ear, delivering spiritual presence to those in need. Chaplains play an important role in the lives of many people every day.
Carinity’s chaplains reach beyond the walls of our buildings to have a positive impact on people in need in hospitals across the state.
Greg Murphy coordinates Carinity’s hospital and aged care chaplaincy teams. He also visits three Brisbane hospitals in a pastoral care capacity himself each week.
“Patients can often feel emotionally overwhelmed by the impact of changes in their health – both for themselves and those dear to them. Sometimes their faith is all that keeps them going as they struggle to find meaning in their circumstances,” Greg said.
“Chaplains give the patient the opportunity to verbalise and express their feelings, their faith and their doubt. We aim to help patients process the emotional and spiritual impacts of their illness, disability or health care challenge. We share in their humanity.”
Pursuing her interest in pastoral care, qualified pharmacist Joanne Foster supports patients from all religious denominations as a ward chaplain at The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane.
“It is about listening, it’s not about your own agenda. I see our role as a ministry of presence that we hope will bring God’s love into the patient’s room, and bring some comfort and peace into their journey,” Joanne said.
Joanne enjoys the “significant interactions” with hospital patients, particularly those from regional areas who “can feel quite overwhelmed being in the city”.
“Sometimes people want to chat for a long time, particularly those from the country who haven’t got any family supporting them here,” Joanne said.
“It doesn’t happen every time, but frequently I’m able to pray for people who I visit. It’s a privilege to be able to be on that journey with people – even if just for a little amount of time.
“It is a beautiful thing to be used by God for Him to touch their lives.”
Jan Dean has been a chaplain at Ipswich hospitals for a decade. After she finished paid work, the former nurse says God “gave me a desire to go back to hospitals in a different role”.
“During my life I have faced some significant medical and family issues which I believe, though difficult, were able to give me some empathy and understanding while listening to patient stories,” Jan said.
“I am available to offer emotional and spiritual support to those willing to receive it. With some I can share comforting scripture and pray with them, with others it is just to open the door and ask them to consider God and His claims.”
Lynne Williams volunteers at two Brisbane hospitals and feels “so blessed to have the opportunity to ‘fly the flag of Jesus’.”
“My goal as a chaplain is to represent Jesus, to listen attentively and actively, and to be sensitive to the needs of patients. I want to be encouraging and understanding of the position of the patient,” Lynne said.
“People in hospital are often facing major decisions, coming to terms with bad news, or are in shock. We can be a listening ear, just allowing patients to ‘offload’. We hold in confidence what is shared with us.
“For me the biggest reward is when I see the Lord at work. Sometimes I’ll arrive to visit a patient and I’ll be made so welcome, and they say, ‘You were just the person I needed to see today’.”
Lynne says her interactions with hospital patients – and hearing about their life journeys and differing points of view – is “a real privilege”.
“Hospital chaplains come in all shapes and sizes, with very differing temperaments and personalities – and the Lord can use each one of us,” she said.
“If you love people, are happy to listen and care about the ‘souls’ of people, being a chaplain is a wonderful avenue to serve the Lord.”
Have a calling to help others?
There has never been a better time to study to become a Carinity chaplain. To help prospective chaplains study for a Certificate IV in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care at Malyon College, Carinity has initiated a generous campaign to financially incentivise students of the course.
Students who complete the course and subsequently serve as Carinity chaplains for a period of two years can have their fees for the course reimbursed.
Active Carinity chaplains who complete the pastoral care course can also apply to have their fees reimbursed.