VITALity is. . .
Hospital Chaplaincy / Healing and Comfort
The Hospital Chaplaincy Program, continues to provide spiritual and emotional support to hospitalized patients, their families and the staff of the hospitals served in South Jersey. The chaplaincy team partners a priest chaplain with a deacon or lay minister to serve as an associate chaplain, along with women religious who serve as pastoral associates. They are greatly supported by more than 200 volunteer Eucharistic Ministers who assist the pastoral care team in bringing Holy Communion to the Catholic parishioners. This year chaplaincy support from VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services has been added to Anchora Psychiatric Hospital in Hammonton and Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice in Voorhees.
Our Chaplaincy team brings Christ’s compassionate and healing presence to the facilities we serve. Their ministry includes administering or arranging for the administration of the Sacrament of the Sick and Sacrament of Penance, conducting pastoral care visits, and offering Holy Communion, prayers and spiritual resources. The Chaplaincy team also assist the local parishes and pastors by informing them of parishioners who have requested that their pastors be notified of their hospitalization. The team has also been instrumental in connecting the patients with the other health-related services that the diocese offers through VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services.
By: Father Sanjai Devis, VC
Director of Hospital Chaplaincy
ANNUAL SPIRITUAL REPORT
Pastoral care visits with patients: 136,234
Pastoral care visits with staff and families: 8,827
Holy Communions distributed: 66,570
Sacrament of the Sick Administered: 5,672
Baptisms Celebrated: 25
Total number of pastoral care hours by chaplains and associate chaplains: 25,064
PASTORAL CARE TEAM
Number of hospitals, facilities: 18
Priest Chaplains: 9
Deacon Associate Chaplains: 3
Religious Sisters: 3
Lay Associate Chaplains: 3
Eucharistic Ministers: 223
My husband Jim had the misfortune of suffering a major stroke and brain hemorrhage in April of 2017. In those early days when it was not certain if Jim would pull through, he and I were helped enormously by both Father Ernest Amadi, the priest chaplain and Mrs. Nancy DiSeveria, the associate chaplain at Kennedy Hospital. I saw firsthand how tenderly they prayed for him and how caring and concerned they were and I am so inspired by their faith and love for humanity.
…Nancy was such a compassionate listener and offered much wisdom on God’s love and kindness. It was very inspiring to be with her and Father Ernest.
We have since met Nancy and Father Ernest at the Rehabilitation Unit at Inspira Medical Center in Woodbury where Jim is so much improved from the person they saw at Kennedy. Their positive spirit and their wonderful faith has made such a difference to both of us. The chaplaincy ministry of the Diocese of Camden at South Jersey hospitals and medical facilities is a truly wonderful resource. I express my heartfelt thanks and sincere gratitude for the services that the Diocese has made available.
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