HOSPITAL CHAPLAINCY MINISTRY
‘Vitality brings the comfort of Christ to the sick. . .’
This year the diocese implemented a more comprehensive approach in its ministry to the sick and the hospitalized. Under the auspices of VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services, the Hospital Chaplaincy Program created six hospital clusters, arranged by their geographic proximity and size. The chaplaincy team partners a priest chaplain with a deacon or lay minister to serve as pastoral associates. A chaplaincy team is assigned to each cluster and works with the local parishes to recruit volunteer Eucharistic Ministers who assist them in bringing Holy Communion to the Catholic parishioners. This team approach has proven to be effective in meeting the needs of the parishioners who find themselves hospitalized throughout the six counties of South Jersey.
Through this new approach, the chaplaincy team provides a wonderful ministerial outreach to those who are ill, their family members as well as the hospital staff by being Christ’s healing presence to those in need. Their ministry includes administering or arranging for the administration of the Sacrament of the Sick and Sacrament of Penance, conducting pastoral visits, coordinating the visits of parish Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and assisting in a diocesan-wide effort to better inform and teach our Catholic faithful about the sacraments of healing and its most practical applications, effects and timing. With the permission of the patients, they also assist in communicating to the local parishes and pastors, informing them of parishioners who are hospitalized. The team has also been instrumental in connecting the patients with the other health-related services that the diocese is offering through VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services.
By: Father Sanjai Devis, VC
Director of Hospital Chaplaincy
ANNUAL SPIRITUAL REPORT
Pastoral care visits with patients: 132,857
Pastoral care visits with staff and families: 7,638
Holy Communions distributed: 63,000 +
Sacrament of the Sick Administered: 5,319
Baptisms Celebrated: 25
PASTORAL CARE TEAM
Number of hospitals, facilities: 16
Priest Chaplains: 8; Religious Sisters: 3
Associate Chaplains: 6
Eucharistic Ministers: 233
|“ I have been in the hospital a little over a year now. My family cannot get over to visit due to medical problems…Father Tomy and Anne have been visiting with me every other day and have become good friends. Their prayers for me, my husband and family have meant a lot to me. Receiving Communion everyday has given my heart something to smile about. I will remember them forever and how they gave me courage to pray every day and wait for God to help me and my family. I am grateful to the diocese.”|
RENEWED APPROACH TO PASTORAL CARE OF THE SICK
As the Diocese of Camden implements a more comprehensive approach in its ministry to the sick and disabled, the Hospital Chaplaincy Program has grown to better meet the needs of those parishioners finding themselves hospitalized throughout South Jersey.
Hospital chaplains provide a wonderful ministerial outreach to those who are acutely ill and are inpatients in the many hospitals here in the diocese. This valuable ministry is just one of the many ways that the Diocese of Camden cares for its people. The new approach ensures the fullest availability to our parishioners and provides the best use of experienced priests and deacons for this most important pastoral work.
Under the auspices of Vitality Catholic Healthcare Services, Hospital Chaplaincy will be linked with the totality of healthcare services and play a vital role in outreach efforts to bring the healing hands of Christ present to those in need.
Father Sanjai Devis, V.C., serves as the Diocesan Director of Hospital Chaplaincy. His experience and enthusiasm supports the work of these chaplains and provides the day to day responsibility and accountability for the coordination and operation of this ministry.
In order to assure that all our parishioners have timely access to pastoral care while hospitalized in these times of often very short stays, the Diocesan Chaplaincy Program partners a priest chaplain with a deacon or lay minister to serve as an associate chaplain, along with women religious pastoral associates. The diocese has created six “hospital clusters,” arranged by their geographic proximity and size. A chaplaincy team is assigned to each cluster and works with the local surrounding parishes to recruit volunteer Eucharistic Ministers who assist them in bringing Holy Communion to our Catholic parishioners.
These chaplains are well experienced in this ministry and work together as a team to serve our parishioners’ needs while hospitalized. They administer (or arrange for the administration of) the Sacrament of the Sick, conduct pastoral visits for patients, families and hospital staffs, help coordinate the visits of parish Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and assist in a diocesan-wide effort to better inform and teach our Catholic faithful about the Sacrament of the Sick and its most practical application, effects and timing. We need to catechize our Catholic parishioners about this Sacrament of Healing and its positive effects, and dispel old thinking of it as only the Sacrament of the Dying (Extreme Unction).
In addition, the associate chaplains will assist in the communication to the local parishes and pastors, informing them of parishioners who are hospitalized (with the permission of the patient) and will assist patients being discharged to link into the other health-related services that the diocese is offering within Vitality Catholic Healthcare Services. This eases the transition home and facilitates other outreach efforts of the parish to connect with its members who are ill and/or recovering from sickness. They also take on the responsibility to review and evaluate our Catholic presence in the many long term care facilities in the region to assure that our Catholic parishioners residing there remain connected to their local parish through Mass and prayer services being offered on a regular basis.
Written by: Deacon Jerry Jablonowski, Executive Director of VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services, in the Diocese of Camden