As the Camden Diocese strives to better serve the needs of its sick and hospitalized parishioners, a new model of hospital chaplaincy and outreach has been developed under the recently created Department of Home and Parish Healthcare Services.

The new model partners a priest chaplain with a deacon or lay minister associate chaplain and assigns them to a group of hospitals known as a “hospital cluster”. (See the list of Hospital Chaplains to see which cluster is closest to you or your hospital of choice).

This new approach to pastoral care was created to ensure “that all of our parishioners have timely access to pastoral care in this new age of often very short hospital stays,” said Deacon Jerry Jablonowski, Director of the Diocesan Department of Home & Parish Healthcare Services.

Chaplains are responsible for administering the sacrament of the sick; conducting pastoral visits for patients, families and hospital staffs; helping coordinate the visits of parish Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist in their work of bringing communion to the sick; and assisting in the diocesan-wide effort to educate the Catholic faithful about the sacrament of the sick.

In addition, the associate chaplains will maintain communication with the local parishes and pastors, informing them of parishioners who are hospitalized (with the patient’s permission), and will assist patients being discharged the other health-related services being offered by the newly formed Diocesan Home and Parish Healthcare Services Department. The hope is that this will help ease a patient’s transition home and facilitate the parish’s outreach efforts to its members who are ill or recovering from sickness.

They will also review and evaluate the Catholic presence in the many long term care facilities in South Jersey to assure that their Catholic residents remain connected to their local parish through regular Mass and prayer services.

Under this new departmental umbrella, of Home and Parish Healthcare Services, chaplaincy joins the group of healthcare services making up the Department including the existing Parish Nursing and Stephen Ministry programs. Soon new initiatives such as a Non-Medical Home Care Agency and Care Coordination services will be added.

“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,” Deacon Jablonowski said.

Father Sanjai Devis, VC, will serve as the diocesan director of hospital chaplaincy, responsible for day-to-day coordination and operation of the ministry and bringing experience and enthusiasm to support the chaplains’ work. “We ask for your prayers for those working in this ministry as they begin or continue to undertake their duties throughout the Diocese of Camden,” said Deacon Jablonowski.

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